In The Giver, what problem does the main character face in the story and how is the problem solved?

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Jonas, the main character in The Giver, actually faces a few problems in the book. That being said, the primary problem he encounters, and then actually runs from, is that the elders of the community he lives in have made collective decisions to keep information from the majority of the citizens. The information they keep from them is information that we, in our own society now, consider to be integral to a healthy way of living, not just for individuals, but also for communities as a whole. In his new position as receiver, Jonas must learn information that the community is not allowed to have, and the emotional weight and burden of this knowledge becomes more than he can stand. He realizes he no longer wants to be part of a community run in this way and his solution is to leave.

One piece of information that the elders have decided to keep from everyone is how death occurs. It is a very sanitized and secretive process in the book, so much so that very few people know what happens at the end of life. The community calls this "release" and a small celebration of life is given, but then the person simply leaves the community. Doctors, and elders, know what "release" really is, but the majority of citizens are unaware of the process of death. This one example is just one piece of information that is keep from the average person.

So, the problem Jonas faces is that he becomes aware of information that the majority of his community does not have and never will be allowed to have. The information is also very burdensome for Jonas emotionally and he only has the Giver to share his feelings with, so this isolates Jonas from his community. Eventually, this burden becomes too much for him to bear and he leaves his community rather than stays and tries to live in isolation. Leaving is a great risk, as he has no idea what lies outside of the community's borders, but this "solution" is seen as the lesser evil than staying.

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Throughout The Giver, Jonas is assigned the prestigious position of Receiver of Memory for his community. As Receiver of Memory, Jonas gains insight and perspective into the true nature of his society when The Giver transfers memories to him during their private sessions. Jonas learns that in order to maintain stability, comfort, and safety throughout the community, the Committee of Elders has created a society void of joy, love, and excitement. With this unique knowledge of the past, Jonas begins to see his community as a restrictive, emotionless environment, where citizens live comfortable yet mundane lives. Jonas also learns about his community's dark secrets, such as the truth behind the term "release" and the missed opportunities to experience a world full of eye-opening possibilities.

Jonas's conflict concerns changing the nature of his community by releasing the memories into society in hopes that the memories will increase citizens' perspectives and alter his community for the better. Jonas also has to save Gabriel from being "released," and flees the community with him. Jonas's conflict is resolved when he escapes from the community with Gabriel, while The Giver stays back to guide and help the community deal with Jonas's released memories.

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In The Giver by Lois Lowry the main character is twelve year old Jonas.  The major problem that he faces is that he is given a prestigious apprenticeship where he learns secret information about his society, and then he realizes that his people are doing terrible things in order to keep everyone comfortable.

When Jonas is chosen Receiver of Memory, he is just as ignorant and ambivalent as the rest of the people in his community.  He begins to learn the truth about mankind and the past when he receives memories of war, hunger, pain and suffering from The Giver.

When Jonas comes upon Asher playing a war game, he simply cannot look at the game the same way after experiencing a memory of real war.

In his mind, Jonas saw again the face of the boy who had lain dying on a field and had begged him for water. He had a sudden choking feeling, as if it were difficult to breathe. (p. 134)

So Jonas’s new problem becomes that he knows more than everyone else, and no longer seems to fit in.  When Jonas asks to see the release of the newchild it is out of curiosity, but it changes him forever as “he saw the face of the lighthaired, bloodied soldier as life left his eye” (p. 150).

The memory came back. He killed it! My father killed it! Jonas said to himself, stunned at what he was realizing. He continued to stare at the screen numbly. (p. 150)

From that point on, Jonas has to both save Gabriel, who is scheduled to be released, and to return the community to sanity by releasing the memories back to them.


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

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