What honors in our society are similar to the honor Jonas receives?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As in our own society, Jonas’s community educates all children the same way until they reach the age of majority. They may have different interests to pursue as elective volunteer positions, but until the Ceremony of Twelve, children of the same age learn together. After the ceremony, many of them will remain together as they continue their education or training in order to fulfill their Assignments. Jonas, however, undergoes training “alone and apart” (65). Jonas has been given “the most important job in the community" (66), his parents tell him: “You’ve been greatly honored, Jonas. Greatly honored” (67).

Our society has many positions that are held in high regard. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, and the military are among them. Jonas’s position is above and beyond even Assignments such as these, which have a clearer path to attainment. Members of the community treat Jonas with deference once he is given his Assignment. They watch him and move aside for him. In this way, receiving Jonas's Assignment is a bit like being elected president—without having run for office.

As Jonas looks over the information sheet for his Assignment, he sees several rules that apply only to him. In fact, he’s exempted from many rules that govern his society. In The Giver, these are things such as rudeness and lying. Political leaders in our society are often exempted from certain laws as well. Congressional immunity in the United States exempts members of Congress from certain federal laws. Presidential immunity is a longstanding topic of debate, with some arguing that the president cannot be prosecuted while in office. In either case, it is clear that politicians in the upper ranks share with Jonas both a degree of freedom from the law and a high level of esteem. Some governmental officials, after all, are addressed as "The Honorable (Name)."

Jonas’s information sheet disallows him from sharing what he learns in his training with members of his community, even his own family. This is also similar to top secret information that governments restrict to very few leaders. Even the freedom to lie is (comically) relevant to our society. People across the world accuse even their most beloved politicians of lying—it’s practically in the job description, we joke.

In addition to these rules, Jonas learns that he is not permitted to apply for release, and he is not allowed to apply for a spouse. This is similar to the clergy of many religions (specifically Catholicism: Catholic priests are not allowed to marry). They are viewed as leaders in their communities and treated with a great deal of honor and respect, even a bit of fear. The leader of the Catholic Church, the Pope, is also subject to these rules. In addition, despite the atypical resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, popes are not supposed to be “released” from their sacred duty.

There are, of course, several additional analogs in our society to the honor Jonas receives. Writers, for instance, could be a kind of receiver of memory—historians as well. We trust these people to preserve our world and inform our thoughts. When we read a book, we can see and feel things we’ve never actually experienced. We can learn things that other people do not know. There’s honor to be found in reading and writing: it’s a cure for Sameness.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial