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

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.