Jonas’s mother tells him that his feelings of “wanting” are Stirrings, and gives him a pill to make the feelings go away.
After helping bathe an old woman in the House of the Old where his friend Fiona is working, Jonas has a dream where he tells Fiona to jump in a bath tub. He is not sure what it is about, especially since he rarely dreams. He tells his parents, and his father asks him what the strongest feeling in the dream was.
"The wanting," he said. "I knew that she wouldn't. And I think I knew that she shouldn't. But I wanted it so terribly. I could feel the wanting all through me." (Ch. 5, p. 36)
Jonas is surprised when his parents do not talk about his dream and feelings at length. He knows the purpose of dream telling is to eliminate any feelings that might arise. His father leaves with his sister, and his mother gives him the pill.
"Jonas," she said with a smile, "the feeling you described as the wanting? It was your first Stirrings. Father and I have been expecting it to happen to you. It happens to everyone. (Ch. 5, p. 37)
She tells him it often begins with a dream. He is alarmed at first, but then she tells him it is just a pill. His mother and father take the pills every day, and some of his friends do to.
Stirrings are clearly sexual feelings. Since births are controlled and basically genetically engineered, sex and independent childbirth are not allowed. Yet all adults willingly take the Stirrings pills. How much they know about what they are doing is not clear, but parents seem to understand the signs to look for in their prepubescent children.
Lowry, Lois (1993-04-26). The Giver (Newbery Medal Book). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
Jonas' mother calls these feelings of wanting "Stirrings".