Chapter 19 Summary
Jonas apologizes to the Giver for having wasted so much of their time on questions about release. Jonas explains that part of the reason he is curious about release is that his father is going to release a twin today. Actually, Jonas reflects, it probably happened this morning. Although Jonas is curious about release, he has a pretty good idea of what happens. His father will weigh the twins and release the lighter of the two. The child will be cleaned and comforted and released to Elsewhere. What happens then is the subject of Lily’s imaginings.
Jonas is surprised when the Giver says he wishes the community would not release twins. Jonas is quick to defend his community, suggesting that it would be very confusing to have two people who look exactly alike. However, the Giver does not back down. Instead, he suggests that Jonas attempt to watch a release. Jonas at first suggests that he cannot, but the Giver explains that the Receiver of Memory is allowed to ask questions and see things like a release. Jonas again suggests that he cannot watch the release because it already happened that morning, but the Giver explains that all releases are videotaped. He turns on the speaker in the Annex room and requests a tape of the release of the twin. The Giver’s assistant procures the tape and, together, Jonas and the Giver watch the release on a screen above the speaker.
The release mostly begins as expected. Jonas’s father and another Nurturer enter a small, plain room (Jonas was expecting an auditorium) with two infants. Jonas’s father weighs the two children and, much to his relief, finds that the two are indeed of different weight. The first child, who weighs six pounds, is sent back to the community. The second child weighs five pounds and ten ounces. Jonas’s father declares that the smaller child is a “shrimp.” Jonas recognizes in his father’s voice the special tone he uses when caring for Gabriel.
Next, the child is cleaned, but he is not comforted or prepared to enter another community. Jonas’s father takes out a syringe. He fills the syringe and injects its contents into a vein in the infant’s forehead. Jonas watches with horror as he realizes that the contents of the syringe are not medicine. His father has killed the infant, who is wrapped up and disposed of in the same way garbage is disposed of. The Giver explains that when Rosemary asked for release, she injected herself. He admits that he was unable to watch.