What happens at each age in the book The Giver?

Each year of childhood for the children of The Giver is marked by a ceremony that introduces a new phase in the child's life. Sometimes children receive new clothing or different haircuts. At the Ceremony of Nine, they receive bicycles. The Ceremony of Twelve is the most important milestone, for young people receive the Assignments they will perform in their adult lives.

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As the other answers have noted, at certain set intervals, children attend a ceremony that ushers in a new stage of life. These include being assigned to a family, starting school, and getting different kinds of clothes and haircuts that emphasize whatever life lesson the children are meant to learn at that stage. They get bicycles when they are ready to receive more independence, and at the beginning of adolescence, male and female clothing is differentiated. Finally, in the Ceremony of Twelve, they are initiated into the adult community and given their adult roles in life. What is significant is the way the children move in lockstep through the various Ceremonies, showing how much conformity and control is valued in this culture.

We learn new things at the Ceremony of Twelve. Gabriel is held back for a year as an Uncertain, and this year is a time to be divided between his home with his and Jonas's parents and the Nurturing Center. This aberrance is dangerous in such a regimented society, and Jonas will later find that Gabriel has been chosen to be euthanized. The most significant new information, however, is that Jonas has been assigned the important role of Receiver. As he assumes this role, he can suddenly see in color, and the reader becomes aware that prior to this, no color imagery has appeared in the book. Jonas now is privy to the dystopic elements of his society.

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The characters in Lois Lowry's novel The Giver lead highly regimented lives. Children are grouped into years and celebrate a ceremony each year with the other members of their age group rather than individual birthday celebrations.

When children are born, they do not remain with their mothers. Rather, they live at the Nurturing Center, where they are cared for by Nurturers, like main character Jonas's father. Each newchild has a “comfort object” like a stuffed toy. At the Ceremony of One, children officially become “Ones” and are given to a family. They also receive a name for the first time. Each family receives one boy and one girl. Jonas has a younger sister, Lily.

After the Ceremony of Three, children begin to attend school with the goal of language acquisition. They also begin to participate in the family ritual of dream-telling.

At the Ceremony of Four, children receive new clothing, jackets that button down the back. Children have to help each other dress and thereby learn interdependence.

Children reach their next milestone at the Ceremony of Seven, when they receive jackets that button in the front so that they can learn to be more independent.

At the Ceremony of Eight, children have to give up their comfort objects. They receive new jackets again, this time with smaller buttons and pockets so they can learn to manage their own possessions. They also begin to volunteer in the community to learn new skills and allow officials to begin to evaluate their talents and abilities.

Children are especially excited about the Ceremony of Nine, for they receive bicycles for the first time and can become more independent in moving around the community.

At the Ceremony of Ten, children receive shorter haircuts. Girls no longer have to wear braids and ribbons, and boys' hair is cut to resemble the style worn by adult males.

New clothing is again the focus on the Ceremony of Eleven. Boys get long trousers and girls a new style of undergarments.

The Ceremony of Twelve ends childhood for the children of The Giver. Based on their skills, characters, and abilities, young people are given their Assignments, the roles that they will perform in the community for the rest of their lives. No one has any choice in the matter; they merely accept what they are given for the “good” of the community. While they continue to go to school for a few more years, young people are now trained in their professions and are no longer considered children.

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At birth, Newchildren are cared for at the Nurturing Center until the first December Ceremonies.  At that time, they are considered to be Ones, no matter when during the year they were born.  At the Ceremony of the Ones, each Newchild is given a name and placed in a family unit, taking the comfort object which was assigned when he or she was born.

Not much detail is given in the book about what happens to children between the ages of Two to Seven.  It appears that the children grow up much like children do in our society during those years, except that everything is very regimented and done on a community level.  The girls wear their hair in braids with ribbons, and the children go to school and engage in recreation.  At age Eight, the children's comfort object is taken away, and they receive jackets with pockets, indicating that they are mature enough now to keep track of their own belongings.  The Eights also begin their volunteer hours; they are allowed to choose where they do their hours, and must have completed all the required service by the time they are Twelve.

At age Nine, the children each receive a bicycle of their own, and at Ten their hair is cut, the females losing their braids and the boys having their hair trimmed so that their ears are exposed.  At Eleven girls receive different undergarments for their changing bodies, and boys get longer trousers with a special pocket for the calculators they will begin to use in school.  Finally, at age Twelve, each child in the community will receive an assignment to a job for which they will begin training and at which they will work for the rest of their lives.


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