What is the first memory transmitted to Jonas in The Giver?

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The very first memory the Receiver transmits to Jonas is the memory of snow.  The Receiver asks Jonas to lie face down on the bed, and then he places his hands on Jonas's back.  Jonas relaxes as he is instructed to, and suddenly he feels the air change.  Everything is very cold, and although his eyes are closed, he sees "a bright, whirling torrent of crystals in the air around them".  Jonas discovers that he is sitting on a sled at the top of a "long, extended mound that (rises) from the very land where he (is)"; he is on a hill, something he has never before seen in the uniformly flat environment of his own community.  As he is wondering at his new surroundings, the sled begins to move down the hill on its runners.  Jonas enjoys for the first time "the breathless glee...the speed, the clear cold air, the total silence, the feeling of balance and excitement and peace" as he races through the pristing snow (Chapter 11).

Jonas receives this first memory during his initial meeting with the Receiver.  The Receiver had been describing how all the memories that he bears for the Community weigh him down.  He had compared the feeling to "going downhill through deep snow on a sled...at first it's exhilarating...but then the snow accumulates, builds up on the runners, and you slow, you have to push hard to keep going".  The Receiver then realizes that Jonas has no concept of snow or of any of the related ideas of which he is speaking.  He decides that transferring the memory of snow would be a good way to introduce Jonas to the memories which he will eventually have to bear for the Community when he takes the present Receiver's place (Chapter 10).


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The first memory is of snow & sunshine, sledding and hills. This comes back to Jonas during his escape, as he sleds down the snowy hill. This may seem insignificant, but The Giver is starting off slowly, to ease Jonas into the burden he will receive. Indeed, The Giver tells him that even sharing such small memories is a great relief. Also, as the weather is, like everything, so carefully controlled in this society, even memories like snow offer an alternative to the existence they have built up.

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