What are the qualities you need to be a caretaker in The Giver?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Caretakers of the Old need to be gentle and compassionate.

There are several types of basic caretakers in Jonas’s community. Nurturers care for the newborn babies before they are assigned to their family units. Caretakers of the Old help nurse and care for the elderly. There are also Childcare workers who help take care of school-age children. The general requirement is that a person be nurturing and patient.

When a person becomes an adult in Jonas’s community, he or she can apply for a spouse. Spouses are matched based on personality and then assigned Newchildren. Eventually each family unit has a boy and a girl. When the children grow up and no longer live with the family unit, the adults go their separate ways and live in the home for Childless Adults. After they have reached a certain age, they go to the House of the Old.

The Caretakers' job is to take care of the elderly in the House of the Old. They look after the elderly, which includes feeding, clothing, and bathing them. At the Ceremony of Twelve, the Chief Elder describes Jonas’s group as having one who has “singular skills at caretaking.” Jonas knows immediately who she means.

The caretaking skills were no doubt those of Fiona, on his left; he remembered noticing the tenderness with which she had bathed the Old. (Ch. 7)

Jonas is right. Fiona is given the assignment of Caretaker of the Old because of these attributes. Jonas thinks to himself that the assignment is “perfect for such a sensitive, gentle girl.” She will do well in this job because she has completed many volunteer hours in the House of the Old.

“The Old were always given the highest respect,” according to Jonas (Ch. 10). Fiona describes her new job to Jonas after she begins her training, explaining to him that she has a lot to learn despite all of her time volunteering with The Old.

"There's administrative work, and the dietary rules, and punishment for disobedience—did you know that they use a discipline wand on the Old, the same as for small children? And there's occupational therapy, and recreational activities, and medications, and—" (Ch. 12)

Of course, Jonas learns later that Fiona also learns a skill she did not include in the list—release. The Giver tells Jonas this after Jonas finds out what release really means. This is when he realizes that after the Old’s Ceremony of Release they are taken into a room away from everyone else and given a lethal injection. Euthanasia is a common practice when a person gets too old. This too is one of the requirements of a Caretaker—a complete detachment from the patients.