What do you learn about each of Jonas's family members from his/her sharing of feelings after dinner in The Giver?

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The first meeting of the family is carefully crafted so that we learn a lot about Jonas’s family and the community.  As each person shares, we learn something important about him or her.

Lily, Jonas’s seven year old sister, goes first.

"I felt very angry this afternoon," Lily announced. "My Childcare group was at the play area, and we had a visiting group of Sevens, and they didn't obey the rules at all….” (ch 1, p. 4)

When Lily shares that she became angry with a visiting child, we learn that she is impatient and values order, but we also learn that rules are important to the community and that there are communities in the surrounding area.

We also learn something about Lily’s parents from what she shares.  Her mother and father encourage her to look beyond her anger and empathize with the other child.

Jonas’s father and mother also demonstrate empathy themselves, when they describe worries they have about work.  Jonas’s father, a Nurturer, worries that a baby in his care is not growing fast enough, and his mother, a Department of Justice worker, worries that a man she has punished has not learned from his sentence.  From both of their stories we learn about release.  Release is a possibility both for the baby and the man.

There were only two occasions of release which were not punishment. Release of the elderly, which was a time of celebration for a life well and fully lived; and release of a newchild, which always brought a sense of what-could-we-have-done. (ch 1, p. 7)

From this description, we find out that Jonas’s community is not the same as our own after all.  We do not know what release is, but we know that it is not a good thing for a baby or a productive adult.  It is a time of shame and loss.

From Jonas’s sharing we learn more about the all-important Ceremony of Twelve, where he will get his adult job assignment.  He is concerned, we already know, but we learn from his parents’ reaction that concern is normal and all members of the community experience doubts before their asignments.

Lowry, Lois (1993-04-26). The Giver (Newbery Medal Book). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.