Chapter 11 Summary
To receive memories, Jonas removes his shirt and lies facedown on a bed. The Elder puts his hands on Jonas’s back and begins to transmit the memory. This transmission includes concepts like snow, sledding, and hills. At first, Jonas can only sense coldness, but the memory takes on additional dimensions over time. Suddenly, Jonas is experiencing snow and the excitement of sledding down a hill. When his mind returns to the Annex room, he is quite enthusiastic about the experience. The process has not been so easy for the Elder, who wipes sweat from his brow as he reflects that he feels a little lighter without the memory. When these memories are transmitted, the Elder loses them forever, though he does have many memories of snow. The memory of snow and sledding is a very old memory, and the Elder explains to Jonas that it is quite difficult to transmit such ancient memories.
In Jonas’s community, there is no such thing as snow, nor are there hills. Jonas learns that such things were eliminated through climate control when people chose “Sameness.” Snow made travel difficult and interrupted agricultural cycles. Hills were also inconvenient. Jonas reflects that he would like to have hills and snow again, if only for brief periods of time, and the Elder agrees. However, much as they might wish for such things, the Receiver does not have the power to make them return. The Receiver’s position carries great honor but little power.
Jonas receives another memory, this time of sunshine. Unlike the previous transmission, this time Jonas has to identify the memory he has received. When he is able to identify sunshine, it is clear that Jonas has a talent for receiving memories from before “Sameness.” On the other hand, these memories are not nearly as painful as Jonas had expected. Although the Elder is clearly tired from the exertion of transmitting these memories, he agrees to transmit something that is more painful this time. Jonas experiences sunburn for the first time and suggests that it was not that painful. The Elder warns that there are more painful memories coming. He is reluctant to transmit too much pain too early because that is what led to disaster with the last Receiver ten years earlier.
However, they do not dwell on the past. The Elder proposes that they end the day’s training session. Jonas, who is quite young, is disappointed but understanding. In contrast, the Elder is clearly tired by the effort of transmitting. Before Jonas can leave, he asks the Elder to clarify their titles. If Jonas is now the Receiver, what does that make the Elder? He explains that he is now the Giver.