What is Jonas's assignment in The Giver?

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"'Jonas has not been assigned . . . Jonas has been selected . . . Such a selection is very, very rare,' the Chief Elder told the audience" (60).

Jonas is selected to be the Receiver-in-Training because he has been observed by the elders, especially by the current Receiver of Memory, and has demonstrated that he has all of the qualities needed in order to be successful. The Chief Elder says that Jonas has intelligence, integrity, courage, and the ability to "see beyond," which will help him to acquire wisdom as he trains with the Receiver. Jonas will be set apart from his peers in order to be successful in his training. He will bear the burdens of the whole world on his shoulders, and this is amazing because he starts this training as a twelve-year-old! That's a lot to ask for one so young. Over the course of the book, Jonas trains for a year before he learns enough about the community to decide he does not want to accept this assignment. In fact, he chooses to completely change the community that raised him and start a new era—one that won't need a Receiver of Memory.

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The first answer is clearly correct.  The job that Jonas is assigned to is the job of Receiver of Memory.

The job of Receiver of Memory is unique in this community.  It shows the essential weakness of the “sameness” that the community has created.  The Receiver has to hold all of the memories of the way things used to be before sameness was imposed.  He or she needs to hold those memories because the community might need them at some point.  They might find that, in imposing sameness, they did away with something that they really needed.  By having a Receiver of Memory, they protect themselves from this possibility.

But this means that the community cannot really have complete sameness.  It has to have the memories of the past intact just in case.  That leaves it vulnerable.  It relies on one person to bear the pain of the memories without cracking.  When Jonas receives the memories, he is unable to deal with the pain and is also unable to accept the sameness.  He has it in his power to single-handedly destroy the community by running away and giving the memories back to all the people.

Thus, Jonas’s assignment is the most important job in the community and the most dangerous.  His job is Receiver of Memory.

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Jonas is assigned to be the next Receiver of Memory.

In Jonas’s community, all children are given an assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve.  This assignment will lead them throughout their lives.  Jonas is not given an assignment at the same time as his classmates.  He is worried and confused when his name is skipped.  Then he is told he has been selected as the new Receiver of Memory.

The Receiver was the most important Elder. Jonas had never even seen him, that he knew of; someone in a position of...

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such importance lived and worked alone. (ch 2, p. 14)

The Receiver of Memory is an honorable job.  This person advises the community, because he or she keeps all of the community’s memories and therefore has wisdom.  The wisdom is largely due to the pain from the memories that the rest of the community would prefer to shield itself from.

As Receiver of Memory, Jonas learns all of his perfect community’s dirty little secrets.  Eventually he is so horrified by them that he decides to leave, returning the memories to the people.

Lowry, Lois (1993-04-26). The Giver (Newbery Medal Book) (p. 14). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

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What is the assignment/job given to Jonas in The Giver?

Unlike the others at the ceremony who are assigned various life positions, Jonas has been selected to be the next Receiver of Memory.

In Chapter 8, the Chief Elder explains that selecting the Receiver of Memory is a profoundly difficult task because the Receiver cannot be observed or have his behavior modified when necessary. She adds,

"He is to be alone, apart, while he is prepared by the current Receiver for the job which is the most honored in our community."

Further, Jonas learns that he has been identified as a Receiver some time ago, so he has been very closely watched, and none of the Elders have had what is recognized as a dream of uncertainty. In fact, Jonas has demonstrated the qualities and personality traits that are requisite for the Receiver:

  1. Intelligence - Jonas has been a student at the top of his class every year.
  2. Integrity - Although he has committed "transgressions," Jonas has always come forward "promptly for chastisement."
  3. Courage -  The Elders feel certain that Jonas will be brave enough to endure real pain.
  4. Wisdom - This is an attribute that will be attained through training.
  5. Capacity to See Beyond - This is a quality recognized in Jonas by the current Receiver. An early example of this ability is the time Jonas was tossing an apple and he saw the color red. Coincidentally--or, perhaps, significantly--the old Receiver has light eyes like those of Jonas.

When the crowd begins to chant his name, Jonas feels both pride and fear because he does not know what the future will hold for him.

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