What are five things that are important to Jonas in The Giver by Lois Lowry?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Five important things to Jonas are freedom, individuality, emotions, knowledge, and truth. 

  • Freedom

Jonas finds his life too restrictive, as there are many rules, some of which seem ridiculous. For instance, children are not allowed to ride bicycles before the age of nine. This is a rule that is not...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Five important things to Jonas are freedom, individuality, emotions, knowledge, and truth. 

  • Freedom

Jonas finds his life too restrictive, as there are many rules, some of which seem ridiculous. For instance, children are not allowed to ride bicycles before the age of nine. This is a rule that is not taken seriously as many older children teach their siblings to ride before nine. However, whenever there is a rule that people want changed, a committee studies the idea. But, there is a Catch-22 to this: If a committee studies something, nothing ever comes of this study.

There are other restrictions in his community. For instance, words must be chosen carefully, and each day Jonas must reveal what he has dreamed, what he has thought, etc. In addition, there are only certain words that he can use to describe his feelings and experiences.

Further, when Jonas has "stirrings" as he enters puberty, he must take a pill to control these sensations, sensations that he has found pleasurable. Being denied these natural feelings, as well as being mandated to reveal his dreams and other feelings causes Jonas much consternation.

  • Individuality

Jonas enjoys activities classified as "volunteer" because he can choose these himself. While he finds his eye color and his ability to see colors and watch things change a bit disconcerting, he is not bothered that he has unique qualities. He also finds the control of the Elders upon choices unappealing.

When he begins his training with the Giver, Jonas's individuality becomes quite apparent as he tells his mentor,

"Sir,...I would be very interested to hear the story of your life, and to listen to your memories."

As he experiences physical sensations and learns from the Giver, Jonas makes independent decisions about these experiences. Certainly, his decision to run away and to take Gabriel with him in the hope of saving his life demonstrates Jonas's independent thought and individuality.

  • Emotions

After he begins his training with the Giver and Jonas receives the memories of pain, pleasure, suffering, and many sensory experiences, his emotions are awakened. Consequently, he becomes more passionate about his beliefs and feelings. He also becomes more sensitive to pleasurable experiences, to beauty and to happiness. Indeed, his feelings of love for his family deepen as, for instance, he becomes more attached to Gabriel. So, when he witnesses his father's "release" of a twin because only one is allowed to live, Jonas is emotionally shaken and appalled that his father could perform such an act:

He killed it! My father killed it! Jonas said to himself, stunned at what he was realizing.
....Jonas felt a ripping sensation inside himself, the feeling of terrible pain clawing its way forward to emerge in a cry.

  • Knowledge

Jonas has a strong desire for knowledge, but much of what he learns disturbs him, such as the knowledge of what "release" truly is.

When his training first begins, Jonas wishes to know what the function of the Giver is, and he is surprised to learn that this one individual holds the history of man in his mind and heart while all the others in the community have had such memories eliminated so that everyone can be content. Nevertheless, the more that he learns, the more Jonas feels he must know and understand.

  • Truth

In his eagerness to learn, Jonas desires the truth. However, he is often disappointed when he learns it. For one thing, Jonas is amazed that people are so desensitized to things because the emotional experiences have been virtually eliminated in order to keep them safe and content. The Giver tells Jonas that the people cannot help what they do.

"It's the life that was created for them. It's the same life that you would have, if you had not been chosen as my successor."
"But he [his father] lied to me!" Jonas wept [as he refers to the release of a twin].
"It 's what he was told to do, and he knows nothing else."

It is this tragic truth that motivates Jonas to escape the community. For, he cannot bear to think that there is a world outside this community in which one can truly live and experience all that is human and he cannot reach it. Therefore, he flees the restrictive world in which he has lived and takes little Gabriel with him.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team