The Giver Questions and Answers
by Lois Lowry

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What was unusual about Rosemary's release?

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After Jonas is selected to be the community's next Receiver of Memory during the annual December ceremony, he reads his list of rules and is surprised to discover that he is prohibited from applying for release. Typically, all citizens eventually are released when they become elderly and enter the House of the Old. At this point in the story, Jonas is unaware that release is simply a euphemism for death. When he begins his training sessions, Jonas asks the Giver why he is not allowed to apply for release. The Giver proceeds to explain that ten years ago, the previous Receiver applied for release, and chaos ensued.

Rosemary was the Giver's daughter and the community's previous Receiver of Memory. She requested release after she could not endure the trauma and pain she experienced during the training sessions. Ten years before Jonas was selected, Rosemary applied for release and committed suicide. Instead of allowing a community attendant to release her, Rosemary injected the needle herself. Her release was unique because the memories she possessed spread throughout the atmosphere and became part of the public conscience. The entire community received Rosemary's traumatic memories, and everyone suffered. Eventually, the memories were able to be collected, and everything went back to normal. The Committee of Elders learned from their mistake and created the rule prohibiting the future Receiver of Memory from applying for release.

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cynthiagingold | Student

Before exploring the unusual conditions surrounding Rosemary’s “release” in Lois Lowry’s The Giver, the term “release” must be defined. It is a euphuism for death. Those released were given injections that ended their lives.

There were many things that were unusual about Rosemary’s release in The Giver. The first thing was that newborn babies who had a physical limitation were customarily released. For example, if a baby did not reach an expected weight by a certain time, they were released. Another example of a newborn being released was the release of one of two identical twins. The Elders thought that identical twins would create a problem. Rosemary was not an identical twin.

Another group of people who were released were the Elderly. These were people who the Elders considered to have lived well and full lives. When they reached a certain age, they were “released.” Rosemary was not old.

When someone broke a rule, he was given another chance. A third transgression warranted being released. Rosemary did not break any rules.

The most unusual circumstance surrounding Rosemary’s release was that Rosemary requested her release. In the other cases previously noted, the Elders ruled on the releases. Another unusual circumstance was that Rosemary was the Giver’s daughter.