What does Jonas notice about the books in the Receiver's dwelling in The Giver?

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Jonas is shocked by the presence of so many books in the Receiver’s dwelling.

Jonas’s community has rule books and instruction books, and that is it.  There are no books of stories or history.  The community embraces Sameness, which seems to necessitate that no one knows what came before.  The only person who knows is the Receiver of Memory, because he holds the community’s memories going back generations.

When Jonas is selected to be the Receiver of Memory, he really has no idea what he is getting into.  He has no idea what to expect when he arrives at the Receiver of Memory’s dwelling. There is an attendant outside, and the dwelling itself is removed from the others.

Inside, Jonas notices that the furniture is different from most dwellings.  It is a little more luxurious.  He also notices that there are way more books than he has ever seen in one place.

But this room's walls were completely covered by bookcases, filled, which reached to the ceiling. There must have been hundreds--perhaps thousands--of books, their titles embossed in shiny letters. (Ch. 10)

Jonas can’t even imagine what is in all those books.  Everyone has a Book of Rules and Jonas has schoolbooks, but he doesn't think that all of these thousands of books contain instructions.  He is baffled by them, and they are his first window into the fact that the Receiver of Memory has special privileges in the community and knows much more than anyone else. The books are symbolic of that special knowledge.

Jonas later learns that the books contain “the knowledge of centuries.”  They are also forbidden to everyone but the Receiver of Memory.

Your living arrangements will have to be different from those of most family units, because the books are forbidden to citizens. You and I are the only ones with access to the books." (Ch. 13)

The Receiver of Memory keeps himself (or herself) apart from everyone else in the community.  It is almost impossible to have a regular family, because the Receiver’s work is private.  How could the Receiver share a dwelling when no one else can have access to books or memories?  The community respects the Receiver’s opinion and asks for it when wisdom and advice are needed, but most of the time the Receiver sticks to him or herself.

Receiver of Memory is a lonely job not just because of the living arrangements and other citizens' wariness.  The Receiver has an understanding that no one else in the community possesses.  As Jonas continues his training, he is often frustrated by this fact.  He alone knows about the past, experiences emotions, and thinks clearly.  It is a lonely position to be in.

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What does Jonas notice that is unusual about The Receiver in The Giver?

Jonas notices that the Receiver is the only one with books.

Jonas makes a lot of observations about the Receiver.  He notices that he seems very old, and that he is usually apart from the rest of the community.  He does not take part in most community events.  Before being selected as the new Receiver, Jonas is only vaguely aware of who he is.

The Receiver was the most important Elder. Jonas had never even seen him, that he knew of; someone in a position of such importance lived and worked alone. (Ch. 2)

Jonas notices that the man, “a bearded man with pale eyes,” is watching him during the ceremonies. Of course he came to that ceremony, because it was the one were his successor would be announced.  He wanted to be there when Jonas was selected, and watch him.

When Jonas begins his training, he notices that the Receiver’s quarters are very different.  The furnishings are unique, and the dwelling itself is isolated.  There is also something else very different about the Giver’s quarters.

But the most conspicuous difference was the books. In his own dwelling, there were the necessary reference volumes that each household contained: a dictionary, and the thick community volume which contained descriptions of every office, factory, building, and committee. And the Book of Rules, of course. (Ch. 10)

It makes sense that the community would not have books.  After all, they have no sense of history so the past can’t be written down.  The community does everything it can to isolate its people in a continuous present.  This is why they keep the past in the Receiver of Memory.  One person contains all of the community’s memories so that they do not make mistakes made in the past.

The books help Jonas realize that he is definitely in a different world now.  It is the first sign that things are not what they seem in the community.  Why would one person have books that no one else is allowed to have?  As Jonas continues his training, he learns that there is definitely more to the community than he ever realized, and he learns what the community is hiding.

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