What happened to the memories that had been given to the previous Receiver-in-training when she failed? What was the result?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rosemary is the name of the previous Receiver-in-training. Jonas has heard bits and pieces about her assignment and the failure it was, but by chapter 18, he wants to know more. The Giver explains that Rosemary was very enthusiastic to know everything at once. Therefore, the Giver gave her feelings of loss, loneliness, poverty, hunger, and terror. He mixed in good memories as well to ease the tension. One day she must have had enough because she kissed him on the cheek, headed straight for the elders, and asked for release. Once Rosemary was released, though, all of the memories she had collected over those five weeks flooded into the community and overwhelmed them. The Giver explains it as follows:

"Rosemary had only those five weeks worth, and most of them were good ones. But there were those few terrible memories, the ones that had overwhelmed her. For a while they overwhelmed the community. All those feelings! They'd never experienced that before" (144).

The whole point of having a Receiver in Jonas's community is to save everyone else from experiencing sadness, pain, and suffering. The community was not prepared to handle the emotions that overwhelmed them and the Giver had to console them and help them through it. It's as if everyone was a baby emotionally and psychologically. Then, out of the blue, when Rosemary died, people felt loss, loneliness, poverty, hunger, and terror all at once! That must have been terrifying for them. As a result, the elders call her training a failure and won't allow Jonas to apply for release at all.