Chapter 13 Summary

Jonas has begun to see colors, though he just as often sees the Sameness. Still, the Giver assures him, he will eventually be able to see color permanently. Jonas balks at the idea that people are not allowed to see color because it is not fair. When the Giver asks Jonas to explain what is not fair, Jonas struggles to explain but eventually settles on the notion of choice. People should be allowed to choose what color shirt they wear in the morning. At home, Gabriel should be allowed to choose his comfort object. However, what if people were allowed to choose their mates—or, even more outrageously, their jobs? Choosing a shirt is harmless enough, but Jonas quickly realizes that there is a great danger in incorrect choices. People need to be protected.

However, in his personal life, Jonas has begun to feel greater temptation to share his learning with others, though he is forbidden from doing so. He invites Asher to examine flowers, but his long-time friend sees nothing other than the same flowers he always sees. After receiving a magnificent memory of a strange landscape and the roar of an elephant, Jonas attempts to explain to Lily that her comfort object, an elephant, actually existed once. He tries to transmit the memory to Lily, but she complains that he is hurting her and scoffs at his suggestion that elephants once existed.

One day, Jonas asks the Giver whether he ever had a spouse, which is a very rude question even by their standards. The Giver explains that he did once have a spouse and that she now lives with the Childless Adults who are not part of a family unit. The Giver explains that the rules that prohibit the Receiver of Memory from sharing his learning with others also apply to spouses. Although Jonas can apply for a spouse, it is a difficult thing to live with.

In fact, many aspects of the Giver’s life are difficult. One day, Jonas comes to see the Giver and is sent away because the Giver is wracked with pain. It seems like the Giver’s life—of memories and books that no one else is allowed to experience—is especially lonely. Furthermore, the Committee of Elders rarely calls on the Receiver for advice. Jonas wonders how important the Receiver really is. The Giver explains that the Receiver is especially important because the Receiver holds onto memories of pain so no one else has to experience them. Ten years ago, when the previous Receiver in training was lost, many memories suddenly returned to the community, which caused great anguish and difficulty. Since then, the Committee of Elders has known just how essential the Receiver is. When Jonas asks about these painful memories, the Giver relents and decides to transmit a painful memory to Jonas.