The Giver Characters

The main characters of The Giver include Jonas, the Giver, Gabriel, and Jonas’s father.

  • Jonas is a sensitive, thoughtful boy chosen to become the Receiver of Memory.
  • The Giver is the elderly former Receiver of Memory who becomes Jonas’s mentor and confidant. He transfers memories of the past and of “Elsewhere,” the outside world, to Jonas.
  • Gabriel is a baby boy scheduled to be “released,” or euthanized.
  • Jonas’s father is a Nurturer, tasked with caring for infants before they are either assigned families or “released.”

List of Characters

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Jonas starts the novel at age eleven and is apprehensive about the Ceremony of Twelve. He does not have clear, specific interests the way his friends do, and he is self-conscious about his light-colored eyes. At the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas is selected to be the Receiver because of his intelligence, integrity, capacity for courage and wisdom, and ability to “see beyond.” (Read extended character analysis of Jonas.)

The Giver

Like Jonas and the previous Receiver, Rosemary, the Giver has fair eyes. The Giver looks older than he is because of the strain of keeping all the memories for the community. He possesses an ability to transfer memories to another, telling Jonas that these memories are those “of the whole world.”

He advises the Committee of Elders whenever they deal with problems they have never faced or when they have questions they cannot answer. He leads Jonas to question the foundations of the community, and while he thinks that things should change, he does not know how to go about making a difference. After showing Jonas a video recording of a Release, the Giver helps Jonas plan an escape, assuring Jonas that he will look after the community when the memories return.


Gabriel, or Gabe, is a child with the same light-colored eyes that Jonas and the Giver have. Gabriel is labeled Uncertain because he does not sleep through the night. Jonas’s father has genuine concern for Gabriel’s health and well-being. For instance, he uses the boy’s name prior to the naming ceremony in the hope that it will help him develop and successfully petitions to allow Gabriel an additional year of nurturing.

Jonas’s family takes Gabriel into their home to give him extra support as he develops. During this time, Jonas volunteers to let Gabriel sleep in his room. Jonas inadvertently transmits some memories to Gabriel, which quiets him, and the two develop a close bond. However, Gabriel ends up being scheduled for Release since he did not sleep through the night at the Nurturing Center while Jonas stayed with the Giver.

Jonas’s Father

Jonas’s father is a Nurturer who works with children. For most of the novel, he is a sympathetic character, showing concern for Gabriel and supporting Jonas. However, although he is gentle, calm, and playful, he is also somewhat dishonest. His description of Release is vague and euphemistic when he explains it to Jonas. Jonas later discovers that his father is euthanizing children and becomes disillusioned at his father’s approach and attitude toward which children live and which are “released.”

Jonas’s Mother

Although the name of her assignment is not revealed, Jonas’s mother holds “a prominent position at the Department of Justice.” She explains the Stirrings to Jonas and encourages him to take a pill to get rid of them.


Four years younger than Jonas, Lily is his talkative and imaginative younger sister, who continues to use her comfort object—a stuffed elephant.


Fiona is one of Jonas’s groupmates and spends her volunteer time in the House of the Old. She is assigned Caretaker of the Old due to her calm and gentle nature. Fiona triggers Jonas’s Stirrings, which are sexual feelings common during puberty. She also has red hair, which is one of several things that triggers Jonas’s “capacity to see beyond.” With her Assignment, she learns what Release truly is, but she accepts it.


Jonas’s silly and gregarious best friend, Asher is assigned to be the Assistant Director of Recreation. He often mixes up his words, despite corrections at an early age that the Discipline Wand did not eradicate. After Jonas begins his Assignment, the two fall out and lose their friendship.


Rosemary was selected to be the Receiver before Jonas. She chose to be Released after five weeks of training. She was the Giver’s daughter. After her death, the memories she had received were released to the community, which caused anguish and pain. The community considers her story a failure.


Larissa is a resident in the House of the Old, where Jonas bathes her as she tells him about the Ceremony of Release.

Chief Elder

The Chief Elder is a position elected every eleven years that involves leading the community and addressing annual ceremonies. The Chief Elder, a woman for Jonas’s Assignment, announces the Assignments that the Twelves get and explains the importance of the Receiver.

Committee of Elders

The committee of elders decide which assignment each Twelve gets, who gets married and to whom, and which family units receive a child.


Caleb accidentally drowned in the river when he was four, and the community performed a Ceremony of Loss. At the Ceremony of Ones, a new Caleb is given to the family unit that lost the first Caleb, causing the community to perform a Murmur-of-Replacement Ceremony.


Roberto never appears directly in the novel. He is Released from the House of the Old, and a child at the Ceremony of Ones is given the name Roberto. Despite the role he played in the community, his Release goes without notice.

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