The Giver Questions and Answers
by Lois Lowry

The Giver book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What does release mean in The Giver?

What does "release" mean in The Giver?

Expert Answers info

Jonathan Beutlich, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12), Professional Writer

bookB.A. from Calvin University

bookM.A. from Dordt University


calendarEducator since 2014

write6,256 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and History

Although being released sounds like a nice thing, it is definitely not. In The Giver, when a person is "released," they are killed through a lethal injection.

During the early parts of the story, readers know that being released is not a good thing, but the term doesn't immediately carry the connotation of death. We are told that being released from the community is a punishment, and it is a punishment that carries a social stigma.

For a contributing citizen to be released from the community was a final decision, a terrible punishment, an overwhelming statement of failure.

But at that point in the story, a reader would think that release is banishment at worst. Eventually Jonas learns the truth about what being released really means.

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.

Jonas is horrified to learn that when a person is released, they are killed. He's further horrified to know that his own father has always known this and isn't bothered by it. Jonas takes a very active step against this societal practice when he escapes with his baby brother.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write15,968 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Release is death by lethal injection, either as a punishment or a form of euthanasia.

We are first introduced to the concept of release in the beginning of the book when Jonas remembers a plane flying overhead.  There is an announcement that the pilot will be released, and Jonas comments on what release means.

For a contributing citizen to be released from the community was a final decision, a terrible punishment, an overwhelming statement of failure. (ch 1, p. 2)

Later, we learn that the only cases where release is not a punishment is release of the elderly and release of a newchild.  Release of the elderly is a cause for celebration, and release of a newchild is sad because there is a sense that something else should have been done.

It is not until much later in the book that we find out that release means death.

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. (ch 19, p. 150)

Until that point, Jonas did not understand what release really meant.  None of the community members really did.  Jonas was shocked to learn that his father had killed a newborn baby like it was nothing.

 

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

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial



dmack3434 | Student

In Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver, the term release is used when members of the community are selected to leave. To be released means to be killed by lethal injection. A person is released as a punishment for transgressions that harm the community, once he/she has reached a certain age, if they are a newchild that has not been assigned to a family, or if they are a twin.

 

It is not until late in the novel (chapter 19) that Jonas learns that release is synonymous with death. This pivotal scene between Jonas and the Giver is when the reader learns the true meaning of release as well. In the scene, Jonas explains to the Giver that his father had released a newchild earlier in the day. When Jonas tells the Giver that the release of the newchild was necessary so that two identical people would not co-exist, the Giver tells Jonah that, as Receiver, he could watch a release to learn the truth. Jonas agrees and watches his father inject the smaller twin with a serum. When Jonas sees the newchild twitch, he realizes that the child is dead. He is dismayed and shocked to see his father throw the child into a garbage chute. Knowing that his father has lied to him, Jonas feels betrayed and does not want to return home.

nearl93 | Student

it means to die