What were Jonas's training rules in The Giver?

Quick answer:

Rules in Jonas's society include rules against lying or exaggerating and rules about how to behave to others, including not to touch one another. There are even rules about riding a bicycle. There are many rules in Jonas' society, because society demands "sameness," where all citizens behave the same way, and there is even a book of rules that children must memorize.

Expert Answers

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

Jonas had eight rules.  Most of the rules told him where to go, but some rules surprised him.

Jonas realized that he was not going to have much free time after he was chosen as the new Receiver of Memory.  The first and second rules told him to go directly from school to The Giver and directly from The Giver home at the end of the training day.

The first rule that startled Jonas was the third one.

3. From this moment you are exempted from rules governing rudeness. You may ask any question of any citizen and you will receive answers. (ch 9, p. 68-9)

Jonas was surprised that he could ask anyone anything and they would have to tell him.  He could not imagine deliberately being rude to anyone.  He decided he did not have to be rude, but he could.  Jonas was sure “he would never take advantage of it” (p. 69).  Being polite was too instilled in him.

Rules number 4 and 5 further removed Jonas from the community by clouding him in secrecy.  These rules prevented dream-telling and did not allow him to discuss his training.  He realized that he rarely had dreams, so it would not be hard to not tell them.

Jonas was not surprised by rule 7, which prohibited him from asking for release. It never occurred to him to ask to be released and permanently leave the community.  He found out later that this was because if he died any memories he had would go back to the people.

Jonas is mostly startled by the last rule, rule 8.  This rule allowed him to lie, something strictly forbidden in the community.

His mind reeled. Now, empowered to ask questions of utmost rudeness—and promised answers—he could, conceivably (though it was almost unimaginable), ask someone, some adult, his father perhaps: "Do you lie?" (ch 9, p. 71)

The possibility of lying, and if not knowing whether others were lying, was frightening to Jonas.  All of the sudden the rules and principles on which his entire life had been built were being stripped away.  Jonas began to doubt his community for the first time, foreshadowing greater doubts to come.

Lowry, Lois (1993-04-26). The Giver (Newbery Medal Book). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What do Jonas's rules tell him about his assigned job in The Giver?

Jonas’s rules tell him that his job is different from others and will involve secrets.

At the age of twelve, all children in Jonas’s community are given the job they will have for life.  Jonas’s job is an unusual one.  He is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memory.  He has no idea what that means. 

While most of his classmates get thick folders or binders of instructions, Jonas gets one sheet of paper.  On the paper are eight rules.  They baffle Jonas.  He knows that every Twelve will get instructions telling him or her where to go and when, and his do contain that information.  He is to go immediately to the Receiver’s Annex and come immediately home.  He is also not allowed to tell anyone anything.

Do not discuss your training with any other member of the community, including parents and Elders. (Ch. 9)

This tells Jonas that his job is a secret.  He is not even allowed to tell Elders about his training.  Although Jonas does not give too much thought to this yet, it has mind-blowing implications for later.  He is about to learn things about the community that no one else knows.

Jonas notices that his rules will affect his relationships.  He realizes he is not going to be spending much time with his friends other than at school, and won’t have much recreation time.  More interestingly, Jonas has some strange rules that seem to contradict the community’s rules.  The community has prohibitions against lying and against rudeness, but Jonas has rules that tell him he can lie and he can ask anyone any question and they have to answer.

He had never, within his memory, been tempted to lie. .. No one did. Unless ... Now Jonas had a thought that he had never had before. This new thought was frightening. What if others--adult-- had, upon becoming Twelves, received in their instructions the same terrifying sentence? (Ch. 9)

Jonas realizes that he can ask people if they are lying, but he would never know if they were telling the truth.  He is disturbed by this rule in his instructions because it seems to turn everything he knows about his community on its head.  He hasn’t even begun training yet, and he is already questioning things.  The main thing Jonas's rules tell him is that things are not what they seem.

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

What are the two rules Jonas must follow when with The Giver?

There are actually a list of eight rules that Jonas must follow as the new Receiver of Memory in The Giver. (These can be found in Chapter 9 on page 68.) However, only three of them directly apply when he is in the presence of The Giver. Rule number eight is probably the most shocking to Jonas: "You may lie." Presumably, he is the only person in the community allowed to do this. Rule number five prohibits him from "dream-telling." Jonas did not consider this problematic. The other rule is number three: He is exempt from the rules governing rudeness. He may ask any question he wishes of any member of the community, and they must respond with an answer. The same rule applies with The Giver.

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

What are the rules of Jonas's society in The Giver?

There are so many rules in Jonas' society that there is even a book of rules that school children are required to learn. There are rules about speech that include rules against lying and even against exaggerating. There are rules about how to behave to others, including not to touch one another. There are rules about when a person can and cannot ride a bicycle and even rules about borrowing a bicycle from a family member.

The society has so many rules that we in our society do not because it requires that all citizens conform to a strict code of behavior that leaves no room for individuality. The punishments for people who break the rules is also extremely harsh, and often, the punishment does not match the nature or severity of the infraction. After three infractions, a person is "released," which the reader comes to realize means that the person is put to death.

This is a society that values and demands "sameness," where all citizens essentially behave the same way. In such a society, the myriad rules govern almost every aspect of people's lives, from how they greet others at the beginning of the day to how they behave in school, even at recess, to how they behave toward family members in the evening at their family dinner table.

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