What is the difference between the Giver and Jonas, other than age and experience, in The Giver?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jonas and the Giver are different because The Giver understands what is really happening in the community and Jonas does not.

Jonas and The Giver both have the Capacity to See Beyond, which means that they have the special ability to see and experience the community’s memories.  This is a...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Jonas and the Giver are different because The Giver understands what is really happening in the community and Jonas does not.

Jonas and The Giver both have the Capacity to See Beyond, which means that they have the special ability to see and experience the community’s memories.  This is a unique trait that very few members of the community have.  They are also alike in many other ways.  Both are sensitive, compassionate, and empathetic.

The main difference between Jonas and The Giver is that Jonas still believes that his community is perfect.  He has bought the community’s publicity, so to speak.  When he begins his training, he is only twelve years old.

The Giver first has to explain to Jonas that the community is storing memories in the Receiver of Memory.  This is a new concept to Jonas.  It means that things are not exactly what they seem.

"There's much more. There's all that goes beyond--all that is Elsewhere--and all that goes back, and back, and back. I received all of those, when I was selected. And here in this room, all alone, I re-experience them again and again. It is how wisdom comes. And how we shape our future." (Ch. 10)

Jonas had no idea that his community was killing people regularly in order to keep complete control.  He did not know that release meant death.  Jonas’s community also kept other things from its members.  No one is aware that there once was a past, or that humans can experience emotions.

An example of Jonas’s ignorance and acceptance of the status quo is demonstrated in the conversation he has with The Giver over choices.  In the community there are no choices.  All choices are made by the community.  Jonas does not believe that people should be allowed to choose.

"Definitely not safe," Jonas said with certainty. "What if they were allowed to choose their own mate? And chose wrong?

"Or what if," he went on, almost laughing at the absurdity, "they chose their own jobs?" (Ch. 13)

When Jonas learns what release means, he is horrified.  His bubble has burst.  He can’t believe that his community would do such a thing.  The Giver explains to him that they know nothing.  They are doing what they are told, and what they are used to.  

By the end of the book, Jonas and The Giver are a lot more alike than they are different.  This is because Jonas grows up a lot during the book.  He goes from being a naive and inexperienced child to a young man who understands the reality of human nature in ways he did not think possible.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team