What is the climax of The Giver by Lois Lowry?
The Giver by Lois Lowry is a dystopian novel set in some unidentified place and time in the future. We do not get many specific details about location or time, of course, because they just do not matter. What does matter is that the setting is a future world which has become as close to a Utopia as a society is likely to get. Unfortunately, this world is anything but a perfect place.
The protagonist is Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy who, from the very beginning of the story, feels "apprehensive" about the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve, a ceremony which will change everything for Jonas and every other eleven-year-old in the community. The Ceremony of Twelve marks the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood, as all young people are given their life vocations, the jobs assigned to them for the rest of their lives.
Jonas's father is a Nurturer, and he tries to assuage his son's fears; Jonas's mother also shares her Ceremony of Twelve experience in hopes of calming her son's apprehension. Despite their efforts, Jonas is still apprehensive about what his assignment will be.
In this world there is a principle called "realeasing." When a baby is not strong enough to survive, it is released; when a person gets old and has been in the OLD House long enough, he is also released. Jonas is not alone in not really understanding exactly what "releasing" is; in fact, it is usually seen as a time of both sadness and joy. For example, when one "Caleb" is released, a child receives the name of Caleb in a naming ceremony.
The Ceremony of Twelve does not go well for Jonas, as he is the only one of the elevens who is not assigned a job. He and his family go home in disgrace. Soon, though, Jonas is called out for his exceptional "Capacity to See Beyond," and he learns he has been chosen to be a Receiver of Memory, the most important position or job in this community.
As he learns more about what being a Receiver of Memory means, Jonas grows even more apprehensive. He is warned that he will experience significant pain, and of course he assumes that means physical pain. What Jonas eventually learns, though, is that the pain is of another kind altogether. Even now, he knows that all is not right in his community. In chapter thirteen he says:
We really have to protect people from wrong choices
When his training begins, he meets with the old Receiver, now known as the Giver, whose job it is to transmit all of the memories of this world to the new Receiver, Jonas. This transfer of memories is exhausting to the Giver, and at first Jonas is intrigued by experiencing, though memory, such unknown things as snow, sunshine, flowers, elephants--all pleasant and rather fun things. That soon changes, though, and the Giver begins to transfer som awful memories, like physical pain, war, and death.
Jonas continues his training, he experiences both positive and negative; however, there is a kind of growing uneasiness about his community which is enhanced by the Giver. Jonas felt this way before he was named a Receiver, but certainly is job has made him a little restless and more aware that changes should be made for the people of his community.
The climax comes in chapter nineteen, when Jonas is horrified to learn that "released" is a euphemism for "killed"--and that his father, because he is a Nurturer, is a killer. After this awful realization, Jonas knows he has to do something to restore the value of human life to his community. This is moment Jonas's course changes.