The Giver Memories

What memories did the Giver transmit to Jonas in The Giver?

Jonas is the next Receiver of Memory, so the Giver intends to pass on all of his memories to Jonas. During their time together, the Giver passes on many memories. Some ideas are simple, like that of sunshine, and others are painful, like the experience of warfare. Jonas runs away before the Giver can transfer all his memories.

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Shortly after Jonas is selected to be the community's next Receiver of Memory, he travels to the Annex, where he begins his training sessions with the Giver. During his first training session, the Giver has Jonas remove his shirt and lie down while he transmits the pleasant memory of sled-riding down a hill on a snowy day. The Giver is exhausted by transmitting such a distant memory, but Jonas finds the experience exhilarating. The second memory the Giver transmits to Jonas is the memory of sunshine, which is warm and soothing. Before their session ends, the Giver also transmits the painful memory of sunburn.

The next day, Jonas returns to the Annex, the Giver transmits the same memory of sled-riding, and Jonas notices that the sled is red. The Giver then shares the memory of a rainbow with Jonas so that he will recognize all the colors. The Giver also transmits the memories of poachers killing an elephant and Jonas breaking his leg during a sled-riding accident. Jonas also receives memories of starvation and war. During the memory of war, Jonas is incapacitated on a bloody battlefield, where he witnesses a young man dying next to him. Despite the painful memories, the Giver also transmits peaceful memories of sailboats on tranquil ocean waters, which Jonas transmits to Gabriel in order to settle him down at night. Jonas also receives the pleasant memories of a family celebrating Christmas together and a child celebrating his birthday. The Giver also transmits the experience of visiting a museum and the feeling of riding a horse to Jonas. Jonas also receives the memory of camping by himself in the wilderness and experiences the joy of solitude.

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Jonas gets a memory of snow, sunshine, a sunburn, a red sled, a rainbow, hunting elephants, a sled crash, being burned, hunger, ocean, a battlefield, riding a horse, a birthday party, Christmas morning, and many others.

When Jonas first meets The Giver, he explains to the boy where the memories come from.

"It's the memories of the whole world," he said with a sigh. "Before you, before me, before the previous Receiver, and generations before him." (ch 10, p. 77)

The first memory Jonas receives from The Giver is the memory of snow in chapter 10.

Now, too, he could feel cold air swirling around his entire body. He felt it blow against his hands where they lay at his sides, and over his back. (ch 11, p. 80)

The old man explains that there is no longer snow in the community because of Climate Control.  He then takes him in the other direction, showing his warm weather.

Suddenly he perceived the word for it: sunshine. He perceived that it came from the sky. (ch 11, p. 85)

The Giver wants him to understand that this is how things used to be before Sameness.  The Giver tells Jonas that he can “receive well, and learn quickly” and this is helpful.  Every time the memory is transmitted to Jonas, it makes the old man lighter.  He does not want to give Jonas a memory of pain, but he gives him a sunburn.  Jonas thanks him for the experience.

The Giver asks Jonas to remember the snow and sled memory, and see the color red on the sled.  He explains that Jonas has the memory now.  He then gives him the memory of a rainbow.

The next memory is a memory of a hunting trip where Jonas sees an elephant for real—and sees the elephant get shot (ch 13).  In chapter 14, The Giver gives Jonas the memory of the sled crashing and being on fire.  Next, Jonas gets a memory of a sailing ship.

The Giver ended the afternoon with a color-filled memory of pleasure: a brisk sail on a blue-green lake; a meadow dotted with yellow wildflowers; an orange sunset behind mountains. (ch 14, p. 110)

Jonas also gets many painful memories, including extreme hunger.  When Jonas accidentally gives Gabe the memory of sailing he states that he has memories of an ocean.

Jonas is deeply affected by memories of a battlefield (ch 15).

Overwhelmed by pain, he lay there in the fearsome stench for hours, listened to the men and animals die, and learned what warfare meant. (ch 15, p. 120)

In chapter 16, Jonas describes happy memories.  He has ridden a horse, experienced a birthday party, and visited museums where he saw colorful paintings.  He also sees a family celebrate Christmas and experiences love and grandparents.

When Jonas escapes, he gives Gabe a soothing memory of a hammock.  He also gives Gabe other memories he has received.

Each night he gave memories to Gabriel: memories of boat rides and picnics in the sun; memories of soft rainfall against windowpanes; memories of dancing barefoot on a damp lawn. (ch 16, p. 218)

Before Jonas escapes, The Giver tries to give him as many memories as possible that will help him on his way.  He also gives those memories to Gabe.  He uses memories to survive, to hide, and to cope as he escapes.

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

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