At a Glance
- Jonas, a sensitive, thoughtful boy chosen to become the Receiver of Memory.
- The Giver, the elderly Receiver of Memory, who becomes Jonas' mentor and confidante.
- Gabriel, a baby boy scheduled to be “released,” or euthanized.
- Jonas’s father, a Nurturer, who cares for infants before they are either assigned families or "released."
- Asher and Fiona are Jonas’s friends. Both of them are kind, friendly, and well-adjusted.
List of Characters
Jonas starts the novel at 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.)
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, he 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 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 towards which children live and which are "released."
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 voluntary work 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...
(The entire section is 853 words.)