Chapter 14 Summary
Jonas has asked to experience a painful memory, and the Giver relents, reasoning that he cannot protect Jonas from them forever. They return to sledding, but this memory is slightly different. Once more, Jonas experiences being at the top of a hill with a sled, but this time there is less snow. The surface of the hill is slick and icy. As Jonas experiences sledding down a hill, he suddenly experiences a loss of control followed by a feeling of pain so agonizing that he vomits. Back in the Annex room, Jonas asks for medication, but the Giver denies it. The rules clearly state that Jonas cannot apply for relief from pain that comes as part of his training. That night, Jonas limps home as he endures the pain of the memory.
The transmission of painful memories becomes part of Jonas’s daily routine, though the Giver is always kind enough to end their sessions with a positive memory, such as the memory of a sailboat on a lake. That the Receiver alone should carry the burden of pain seems unfair to Jonas. Why must they carry it? The Giver explains that pain brings wisdom. Furthermore, the community long ago chose for this to happen. When he explains that this arrangement has been in place for generations, Jonas realizes this means that nothing will ever change.
The Receiver’s wisdom is important. The Giver explains that someone had once suggested that they allow Birthmothers to give birth to four children, rather than three, and allow some family units to care for three children, rather than two. This would allow more children to be born and the population to expand. However, because this was a new idea, the Committee of Elders asked the Giver to share his wisdom. Reaching back in his memory, the Giver advised the council against the change because it could lead to hunger, starvation, and warfare. The Committee did not want to know why they should deny change; it was enough that the Receiver of Memory advised against it.
At home, Jonas’s family unit is managing to care for three children. Gabriel seems to be progressing, though he still sleeps fretfully at night, which keeps Jonas’s mother from sleeping. Even now, it is possible that Gabriel will be released from the community, and Jonas wonders what would happen. The community is preparing to release another child—a twin—soon, which strikes Jonas as sad. Still, the more pressing problem is what to do with Gabriel, and Jonas volunteers to take care of him. At first, the child sleeps well, but by the middle of the night he is thrashing in his bed. Jonas gets up to tend to Gabe, and suddenly he finds himself transmitting a memory of a sailboat to the child. It calms Gabriel, but Jonas is left wondering about this new experience. He has not been given permission to transmit memories.