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Extended Character Analysis

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.”

Jonas as an Average Child

At first, Jonas considers himself an average child. He has not excelled in an obvious way like his groupmate Benjamin or shown any particular talents or inclinations. We first learn how Jonas is different when Lily remarks that Jonas and Gabriel have the same light eyes. We also learn that it is considered rude to point out differences among people. Jonas is not naturally rebellious, and he follows the majority of the community rules without question. He readily takes the pill for the Stirrings when he reports his dream about Fiona.

Jonas and Seeing Beyond

Although Jonas does not understand it, his first instance of seeing beyond occurred when he was playing catch with his friend Asher. The apple they were playing with “changed.” It happens again at the Ceremony of Twelve, when Jonas sees the faces of the community change briefly, and again when he observes Fiona’s hair. The Giver explains to Jonas that he is beginning to see color, specifically red, and that Jonas will start seeing other colors and experiencing other senses more fully.

Jonas as Receiver of Memories

When Jonas receives the memories, he is immersed in a reliving of those memories. As Jonas experiences new sensations and colors through the memories, he becomes increasingly frustrated by the complacency of his friends and family. He tries to transmit the memory of these colors to them. He longs to share the vitalizing aspects of the memories that have enriched his life. He learns about the community’s policy of Sameness. He learns, too, that in order to keep tight control over communal life, the community had to do away with things like deeply felt emotions and colors. Still, Jonas yearns for deeper connections with people and a more vivid experience, in spite of how “logical” many of the community’s past decisions are.

Jonas as an Individual

On the unscheduled holiday, Jonas realizes how different he has become. He has stopped taking the Stirrings pill, allowing him to permanently see colors. He experiences almost euphoric happiness when he sees his friends. He is then brought to the verge of tears when he recognizes his friends’ game as a version of warfare, which he recognizes from a memory shared by the Giver. He tries to convince his friends to stop playing the game altogether, but Asher will not listen to Jonas’s reason and merely apologizes. Jonas begins to understand the isolation and difficulty of being the Receiver.

When Jonas discovers the truth about Release, he is furious and determined for things to change. He agrees to go along with the Giver’s plan and escape during the December ceremonies. However, when Jonas learns that Gabriel is scheduled to be released, he makes his first truly independent decision: to leave the community that same night with Gabriel. Jonas was supposed to receive memories of courage from the Giver to sustain him, but he proves to have enough courage to make it to another town outside of the community on his own.

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List of Characters