Chapter 18 Summary
After hearing Lily speculate about release and Elsewhere, Jonas asks the Giver about the same topic—though the questions are not so idle coming from the young Receiver in Training. When Jonas asks the Giver whether he ever thinks about applying for release, the Giver explains that he is not allowed to do so until he has trained a successor. Jonas shares that he is not allowed to apply for release, but the Giver already knows this. He explains that the rule was put in place after the disaster ten years before.
Jonas inquires about the previous Receiver in Training with whom the Giver worked. The Giver is reluctant to share. He explains that the memories are painful because he loved the previous Receiver in Training, just as he loves Jonas now. However, he tells Jonas that the previous Receiver in Training was a female and that her name was Rosemary. In many ways, Rosemary was similar to Jonas. She arrived in the Annex room in the same way, full of anticipation and anxiety at her new role in the community. She enjoyed the early memories and was diligent in her responsibilities.
Eventually, she began to ask after the painful memories out of a sense of duty. The Giver was careful not to share memories of war. Instead, he shared experiences of loneliness with Rosemary. After she experienced these painful memories, Rosemary changed. She was no longer as happy as she had been before. Although the Giver always tried to end their training with happy memories, Rosemary had changed. One day, she hugged the Giver goodbye, went to Chief Elder, and applied for release.
The Giver again explains to Jonas that her release was a disaster for the community. Even though Rosemary had only been trained for five weeks and most of the memories she had received were positive, the community was unable to deal with the memories of loneliness she left.
Suddenly, Jonas begins to reflect on the idea of release and loss. He recalls Caleb, the Four who was lost to the river. He asks what would happen if he were to go too close to the river and be lost. The Giver is greatly disturbed by the idea and suggests that Jonas be very careful where he walks. Losing him at this point would be a terrible blow to the community. Although the Giver reflects that he might be able to do something to help this time, he ends the discussion by saying it is a good thing Jonas is a good swimmer.