Why is the relationship between Jonas and the Giver more dangerous compared to the other relationships Jonas has?
In The Giver, why is the relationship between Jonas and the Giver more dangerous compared to the other relationships Jonas has?
The relationship that Jonas has with The Giver is very different than his other relationships. All of Jonas’s other relationships revolve around careful behavior designed to keep distance between people, and maintaining the community’s expectations. These are closed relationships, where closeness is forbidden. By contrast, Jonas has an open relationship with The Giver. Their relationship stems from the understanding that they are the only two people in the community with feelings.
Family units in the community are determined by committee. Adults are matched for the purpose of raising children. There is no sex, as children are bred from birthmothers who then never see them again. Sexual feelings, called Stirrings, are repressed with pills. Children are assigned to adults in pairs, one boy and one girl. The mother and father do not love each other, and they have no love for their children. When Jonas asks his parents if they love him, they chide him for inaccurate language usage. Love is not a concept that exists in the community. The absence of love is very important to the controlling of emotion, critical to the community’s sameness.
By contrast, Jonas and The Giver have a father-son relationship based on love. They care about each other, as The Giver cared for Rosemary. There is evidence that they are related, since they have pale eyes. The Giver shares memories of love with Jonas, such as the memory of grandparents, because he wants to teach him to experience strong emotions. The Giver is forced to share terrible emotions like fear and hunger with Jonas, but since he cares about him he balances these with memories of love. The Giver allows Jonas to leave, and helps him for a plan, because he cares for him.
It is no coincidence that Jonas’s relationship with Gabriel grows as his relationship with The Giver grows. The Giver teaches Jonas how to love, and Jonas comes to love Gabriel. Jonas cares about Gabe, and comforts him with positive memories in much the way The Giver comforts him. It is Jonas’s love for Gabriel, only made possible by The Giver’s love for Jonas, which allows the community to transform from sameness.