How would you describe Jonas's father's physical traits, inner desires, and important characteristics in The Giver?

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Jonas's father plays his role in the community appropriately, but readers may see him as a villain and a killer.

Jonas’s father seems gentle and supportive, if not bland.  He is one of two appointed “parents.”  Parents in Jonas’s community are not biological.  It is more of a custodial...

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arrangement, like foster parents, teachers, or babysitters.  They do not love their children, because love does not exist in their community.  He does, however, feel a sort of affection for Jonas. He cares about him.

Jonas’s father works with Newchildren, or babies.  He is a Nurturer.  As a Nurturer, he is good with children, and even brings home an extra one, Gabriel.  The fact that he brings Gabriel home as a special circumstance shows that he does have an extra amount of sentiment about him.  Most people in the community would not think twice about Gabriel, but Jonas’s father apparently did.

"He's a sweet little male with a lovely disposition. But he isn't growing as fast as he should, and he doesn't sleep soundly. We have him in the extra care section for supplementary nurturing, but the committee's beginning to talk about releasing him." (Ch. 1)

Jonas’s father is concerned that Gabriel will be released, which is why he brings him home.  Yet after a year of bringing him home, he hardly seems more than a little upset when Gabriel is actually scheduled for release.  Perhaps more disturbing for the reader is when Jonas watches his father actually perform the release of the newborn twin.  Jonas’s father’s behavior seems to demonstrate a disregard for human life.

Jonas stared at the screen, waiting for something to happen. But nothing did. The little twin lay motionless. His father was putting things away. Folding the blanket. Closing the cupboard. (Ch. 20)

Jonas’s father dumps the body down a garbage shoot and that is that.

It is easy to paint Jonas’s father as either evil or stupid because of his attitude toward release, but it is more complicated than that.  Release is part of life in Jonas’s community.  It is considered normal for infants.  Jonas is shocked because his father killed an innocent newborn, and the reader no doubt feels the same.  Yet Jonas’s father does not feel the sense that what he did was wrong.  Jonas has formed an attachment with Gabriel, so when he learns that the same thing is about to happen to Gabe, he is terrified.  Yet his father is incapable of forming attachments, just like everyone else in the community.  Releasing Gabriel is a disappointment to him, and that is all.

When Jonas asks his father if he loves him, after learning about love from the memories, he gets this reaction.

There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle. "Jonas. You, of all people. Precision of language, please!" (16)

His father feels surprised, and awkward.  Love is awkward.  His father does not love him, because love does not exist in the community.  His father cannot love him.  His father cares about him as a teacher cares about a child, because that is what the Father and Mother do in Jonas’s community.  They are not real parents.  Jonas loves Gabriel as a brother.  He has formed real attachments.  Jonas’s father cannot appreciate the real value of human life, and therefore cannot appreciate when he takes it.

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What are the character traits of Jonas's father in The Giver?

Jonas’s father is compassionate, but just as clueless as the rest of the citizens in the community.

Jonas’s father and mother were assigned to his family unit by the elders, like every other family unit.  Jonas’s father was a Nurturer, meaning he takes care of the babies.  This was a profession given to individuals who were playful and compassionate.  This generally describes Jonas’s father.

Father was listening with interest. "I'm thinking, Lily," he said, "about the boy who didn't obey the rules today. Do you think it's possible that he felt strange and stupid, being in a new place with rules that he didn't know about?" (Ch. 1)

Jonas listens carefully to Lily, even though she is young.  Like all others in the community, he has been trained to help diffuse feelings, and he is able to make Lily feel better.  He is also able to help Jonas feel better about his apprehension for the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve.

Jonas’s father demonstrates compassion when he looks up Gabriel’s name and gets himself special permission to bring Gabriel home with him for extra nurturing.  He does not want Gabriel to be released.  It is very unusual for anyone in the community to try to prevent a release.  Most of them just accept it as a matter of course.

Unfortunately, Jonas’s father is not that special. While he may have extra compassion and resourcefulness, he is still a citizen of the community.  While he does not want to be the one to release the newborn twin, he does it without question.  When Jonas learns of this, he can’t believe it. 

He killed it! My father killed it! Jonas said to himself, stunned at what he was realizing. He continued to stare at the screen numbly. (Ch. 19)

Jonas’s father acts as if he is not aware of what the baby’s death means.  He says goodbye to it and dumps it down a garbage chute.  Later, Jonas learns that he agreed to release Gabriel when he still could not sleep through the night.  He may be a little different from the other citizens in the community, but in the end he is just like all of them.

Jonas has no idea what is really happening in his community until he learns the real meaning of release from watching his father kill the newborn.  It is at that point that he understands that his father is not the man he thought he was.  He is just like everyone else.  This is one of the hardest things to accept.  He has no idea that his father is a coldblooded murderer until he sees the video.

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What is a description of Jonas's Father in The Giver?

Jonas's father has the Assignment of Nurturer - he helps to give care to newborn children until they are assigned to a family unit. This is a good placement for him, as he is patient and gentle, loving and supportive of the babies. He is truly concerned with one child who is not progressing at the expected speed and gets special permission to bring this child to his living quarters at night.

as a result of Father's plea, Gabriel had been labeled Uncertain and given the additional year. He would continue to be nurtured at the Center and would spend his nights with Jonas's family unit.

His attempts to help Gabe, his nickname for the infant who is to be named Gabriel when/if given to a family unit, show his dedication to his work.

At the same time, part of his job is to uphold the community in all its expectations and regulations. As part of the society structure, every person is unique. When twins are born, it is part of Father's duties to make the determination of which will be nurtured for eventual raising by a famiy unit and which will be "released." He carries out the procedures involved in doing so without hesitation or thought about the deeper significance of what he is doing.

Jonas's father is a good member of the community - he is content not needing to think for himself.

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