Discussion Topic

Jonas's experience and memory of seeing the color red in The Giver

Summary:

In The Giver, Jonas's experience of seeing the color red is transformative. It begins when he perceives an apple changing in mid-air, marking his first encounter with color. Later, through memories transmitted by The Giver, Jonas fully experiences red, symbolizing his awakening to the complexities and emotions of life beyond the monochromatic world of his community.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Giver, what does Jonas learn from seeing the color red?

In The Giver, Jonas's experiences of the red apple, the faces in the crowd, and Fiona's hair give him a privileged insight into another world, a world that's vibrant, exciting, and, of course, colorful.

Nothing could be further removed from the drab, monotone society in which Jonas currently lives. In the dystopian world that he inhabits, Sameness is the norm, a standard imposed to eliminate conflict.

As the Receiver of Memory, Jonas is able to go beyond Sameness and behold a world of diversity, as he sees manifested in the red apple, the faces in the crowd, and in the change in Fiona's hair.

In relating this experience to the Giver, Jonas becomes frustrated; he can't quite describe exactly what it is that he saw. All he can say, in relation to Fiona's hair, is that it changed. He doesn't know how and he doesn't know why.

It's no accident that all of the objects that Jonas sees in these memories are red. Red is the color of passion, the color of love, two qualities that are notable by their absence from the society in which he lives.

Jonas may not as yet be able to discern the full significance of his memories, but for now, at least, they've shown him that another world is possible—a world characterized by diversity, individuality, and spontaneity.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Giver, what does Jonas learn from seeing the color red?

Unlike the majority of citizens in his community, Jonas possesses the Capacity to See Beyond, which means that he has the ability to see in color. In Jonas's highly organized, mundane community, Sameness has eliminated colors, sunlight, and anything natural or unpredictable. Jonas experiences color for the first time when he notices the red color of an apple while playing catch with Asher. Later on, Jonas notices the red tones in the faces of the crowd during the December Ceremony and recognizes that Fiona has bright red hair. The sled Jonas rides during his first transmitted memory is also red.

Red is a significant color in The Giver, as it represents Jonas's separateness and introduces him to an alternative to Sameness, where color, emotions, and spontaneity exist. Each time Jonas sees the color red, he is reminded that there is an alternative way of life and that he is different from the other members of his community. This alternative society does not subscribe to the strict rules of Sameness and offers a more vivid, exciting experience, which is something only Jonas and the Giver are privy to.

Jonas's experience seeing red in the apple foreshadows his Capacity to See Beyond and enhanced perspective after becoming the community's next Receiver of Memory. The faces in the crowd validate Jonas's unique ability and confirm that he should be the next Receiver of Memory, while Fiona's red hair symbolically represents Jonas's passion for her. The red sled symbolizes Jonas's unique journey into a time before Sameness and teaches him the importance of challenging his community's manufactured culture. Overall, the color red represents Jonas's separateness and outlook on life. The Capacity to See Beyond also introduces him to an alternative to Sameness and motivates him to undermine his society's shallow culture.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Giver, what does Jonas learn from seeing the color red?

The color red is significant in The Giver.  The first time Jonas “sees beyond” is when he notices an apple change color.  He also sees color in the faces of the crowd during the Ceremony of Twelve, Fiona’s hair and the sled in the memory.  In The Giver, red is a symbolic color.  It represents difference, and therefore emotion.  All of the objects that are red or turn red are connected to deep emotions for Jonas.

The apple is the first red Jonas sees, and he does not recognize at first that he is seeing a color.  The apple changing color foreshadows later change for Jonas, and foreshadows his later experience with the feeling of love.

Jonas feels a connection with Fiona from the start.  Her red hair compromises the community’s sameness.  When Jonas notices her hair, he recognizes that she is different.  He also has strong feelings for her.  His sexual feelings, represented by the dream with the bathtub, are at first repressed by the Stirrings pills.  When he stops taking the pills, these feelings may potentially grow into love.

Although at first we do not realize the significance of the faces of the community changing color, we later learn that Jonas feels love for the people of his community even though he deeply disagrees with much of what they do.  He realizes that they do not know any better, and that he and The Giver have a responsibility to care about them.  This is the reason Jonas leaves the community, to save them from themselves.

Finally, the red sled is a powerful memory.  The sled being red connects another emotion, pain, to the feelings of love that are associated with the color red.  Love is a strong emotion that can cause pain, although not the physical pain of the sled.  While the people in the community do not see the color red, a strong emotion, or any other color, representative of other emotions, Jonas does see and he does feel.  He realizes that to be human, one must see and feel even if it is painful.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Giver, what does Jonas learn from seeing the color red?

Jonas is seeing the color red. He has never seen in color before, and this is a new experienced for him.

Taking the medication inhibits color vision for the members of the community. The requirement of "sameness" for each member of society means that variations of hair color, eye color and other differences be limited. The members of society are medicated in such a way that they cannot distinguish one color from another and may only see in shades of gray.

Because Jonas has been selected as the receiver of the community's memory, he has a need to know everything about everything.  Therefore, he stops taking the medication and is open to knowledge of everything, color, feelings, history, etc.

Since no one other than the "old receiver" has any idea of color, Jonas must go to The Giver in order to receive the idea of color and the understanding that there are many colors.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When does Jonas receive the memory of "red" in The Giver?

A reader should look to chapter 12 for this answer. Near the beginning of the chapter, Jonas sees Fiona's hair change, the same way that the apple changed a bit earlier in the book. Jonas doesn't know what is going on, so he decides to ask The Giver about it. The Giver suspects that Jonas is beginning to see beyond, so he asks if Jonas looked down at the sled in the previous memory. Jonas admits that he did not look at the sled, so The Giver tells Jonas to recall the sledding memory and look closely at the sled. Jonas does so, and he realizes that the sled has the mysterious thing that he saw briefly on the apple and on Fiona's hair. The difference is that the sled doesn't lose the color.

This time the sled had—and continued to have, as he blinked, and stared at it again—that same mysterious quality that the apple had had so briefly. And Fiona's hair. The sled did not change.

Jonas doesn't know what he is remembering or what he is beginning to see, but The Giver explains that Jonas is "beginning to see the color red."

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on