What do others say about Jonas in the Giver?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Jonas has intelligence, integrity, courage, wisdom, and the Capacity to See Beyond.

According the community Elders, Jonas has the traits necessary to be the Receiver of Memory.  They are unusual traits, especially in an eleven year old.  They explain how Jonas has these traits during the Ceremony of Twelve, when they single him out and select him.  They describe Jonas specifically during this time, because they want to explain how he is unique.

During the ceremony, the Chief Elder explains that Jonas is special.

"Jonas was identified as a possible Receiver many years ago. We have observed him meticulously…. He has shown all of the qualities that a Receiver must have." (Ch. 8)

Wisdom is something Jonas has to acquire, of course, as he gets a little older and through his training with The Giver.  However, he has shown that he “has the ability to acquire wisdom” (Ch. 8).  Jonas has shown this in the fact that he is already thoughtful, intelligent, and reflective.

The fact that he has the Capacity to See Beyond was shown in the apple incident.  When he tossed the apple to Asher, he began to see the color red.  No one else in the community can see color.  The community members noticed that Jonas took the apple home.  They reprimanded him for storing food, but they were aware that he was studying the apple for a reason.

One of the reasons Jonas has this ability is because it was genetically passed to him.  Lily describes him as having light eyes.  She brings it up when she notices that the baby Garbiel’s are also light.

And he has funny eyes like yours, Jonas!" Jonas glared at her. He didn't like it that she had mentioned his eyes. (Ch. 3)

Most community members have dark eyes.  The fact that Jonas’s are light, and the baby’s are too, indicates that they are related.  The other girl with pale eyes also has the Capacity.    The Giver points it out to Jonas.

When Jonas is selected to be Receiver, Jonas’s mother says that Jonas has been greatly honored.  

"You've been greatly honored," his mother said. "Your father and I are very proud." (Ch. 9)

This is when Jonas begins to feel separate and apart from others.  His training makes him understand things about the community that others do not.  When he receives the memories, he learns about love, suffering, and death.  This causes a conflict with his friend, Asher when he finds him playing a war game.

"I'm the one who's training for Assistant Recreation Director," Asher pointed out angrily. "Games aren't your area of expertness... You can't say what we play, even if you are going to be the new Receiver."  Asher looked warily at him.  (Ch. 17)

Asher apologizes for not giving Jonas the respect he deserves, and Jonas realizes that Asher no longer views him as a friend.  He is an outsider now, and somewhat of an authority figure.  He does not want respect from his friend; he just wants him to understand that playing war is not a game.

Indirect characterization is when we learn about a character from what others say about the character.  Everything I have described here indirectly characterizes Jonas as a sensitive but intelligent boy who has gifts, but is also troubled by what he sees in his community when he learns the truth.  Jonas finally realizes that he has to help his community by leaving them, so they can learn to help themselves.

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