What does Jonas look like in The Giver?

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Jonas's appearance in The Giver is fairly similar to every other boy his age because of the standards of Sameness which they follow. Jonas's skin has red tones, and he has neatly-trimmed brown hair. The one feature which sets him apart from almost everyone else in his community is his pale eyes.

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We know that Jonas looks about the same as most other children his age in his community. Because of the principles of Sameness, everyone in the community looks as similar as possible.

Unlike the majority of his community, Jonas develops the ability to see colors. The first color he sees is red, though he doesn't realize what the quality of color is at first. One of the first places Jonas sees the color red is in the skin color of people in an audience, so he shares this same tone.

We can also infer that Jonas is in pretty good physical shape. Food in their community is strictly controlled; Jonas once was the cause of a public reminder that "SNACKS ARE TO BE EATEN, NOT HOARDED" after accidentally taking an apple from the recreation center. There is a food delivery crew and a food collection crew; it seems that families are able to keep very little, if any, food inside their homes for private consumption. Additionally, Jonas's younger sister, Lily, is envious of the "gentle exercise periods" afforded to Birthmothers. It seems that rigorous exercise is another requirement of citizens, so Jonas is likely trim and athletic.

The principles applied to achieve Sameness have not fully mastered making everyone look completely the same, and Jonas's pale eyes are unusual in their community. Both the Giver and Gabriel share these "pale," likely blue, eyes.

Like other citizens, Jonas wears a tunic. His hair is neatly trimmed, as is expected of boys his age. Jonas physically blends into his world, which is the expectation in his community.

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When Jonas is discussing his future ceremony of Twelve with his mother and father, the narrator tells us that his father reached over and "stroked [his] neatly-trimmed hair."  This is really all the information we get about his particular style of hair, or rather, his indistinctive style since we learn that the age groups share a haircut.

It's true that Jonas's eyes make him stand out from others in the community—so much so that his sister, Lily, points out (rather rudely in Jonas's view) the fact that the newchild, Gabriel's, eyes are just like Jonas's.  

"Oh, look!" Lily squealed in delight. "Isn’t he cute? [....] And he has funny eyes like yours, Jonas!" Jonas glared at her. He didn’t like it that she had mentioned his eyes.
The "pale" eyes that Jonas shares with so few other people stand out from the ocean of dark eyes the rest of the community seems to possess.  They also, he feels give a different sort of look to both himself and Gabriel, as well as anyone else who possesses them.  Jonas typically doesn't see himself in the mirror, and so he considers his eyes and expression as a result of his observation of Gabe.
Now [...], he was reminded that the light eyes were not only a rarity but gave the one who had them a certain look — what was it?  Depth, he decided; as if one were looking into the clear water of the river, down to the bottom, where things might lurk which hadn’t been discovered yet.  He felt self-conscious, realizing that he, too, had that look. 
Such a statement very much foreshadows future events that happen to Jonas; he does have a depth that others lack, absolutely, and it is, apparently, visible on his countenance; in fact, it helped the Elders to identify him as a potential candidate to be the Receiver of Memory.  We begin to understand its importance when we learn that the current Receiver also shares Jonas's "pale eyes" when Jonas is named as the new Receiver.
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The most important thing about Jonas’s appearance is his eyes.  Jonas’s eyes separate him from the rest of the community, and seem to genetically predispose him to the “gift” of Capacity to See Beyond.

Jonas has pale eyes, when everyone else’s are dark.  There are few people with pale eyes: Gabriel, The Giver, and a female Five.

No one mentioned such things; it was not a rule, but was considered rude to call attention to things that were unsettling or different about individuals. (ch 3, p. 20)

Jonas looks like everyone else in most other senses.  He has brown hair, and it is cut short (everyone has the same haircut, based on age).

Jonas is white.  We know that there used to be different skin tones, but they eliminated them when they chose Sameness.

Today flesh is all the same, and what you saw was the red tones. Probably when you saw the faces take on color it wasn't as deep or vibrant as the apple… (ch 13, pp. 94-95)

Jonas wears a tunic, which is kind of like a long shirt, and pants.  He dresses like everyone else.

Jonas's eyes are significant because they separate him from the others.  Even though it's not polite to talk about his eyes, it is clear that Jonas has always been a little different.

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

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What are some character traits of Jonas in The Giver?

Jonas is a highly sensitive and intelligent young man. It is these very qualities that give him a unique insight into life in the society in which he lives, as well as providing him with the means to challenge its warped moral values.

Furthermore, Jonas is blessed with a heightened sense of perception. This makes him especially well-suited for the important role of Receiver of Memory. When receiving memories from the Giver, he's able to see things that no one else can see, even if he doesn't always understand what he sees.

From the perspective of the community's Elders, it's good that Jonas should possess the perception necessary to help him perform his vital social role. But at the same time, this quality of his enables him to question the very foundations of society—and, of course, that's the very last thing that the Elders want him to do.

This is a society in which it doesn't pay to ask too many questions. However, Jonas can't help but ask them as he becomes more emotionally attached to the world around him. It is the richness and depth of Jonas's emotional life that makes it possible for him to see his community as being ultimately founded on evil.

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What are some character traits of Jonas in The Giver?

Jonas is a considerate, unique adolescent in The Giver and is selected to be the community's next Receiver of Memory. Unlike his family, peers, and neighbors, Jonas has the unique capacity to see beyond, which allows him to see colors. During the December Ceremony, the Chief Elder elaborates on several of Jonas's character traits by stating that he is intelligent, brave, and has integrity. Jonas is also an obedient, honest adolescent and displays both of these attributes by following society's strict rules, regulating his language, and telling the truth.

Jonas is also an innocent adolescent and does not recognize the negatives attached to the principles of Sameness. Jonas's innocence is also depicted by his understanding of the term "release," which he discovers is a euphemism for euthanasia. Jonas is also a dynamic, conflicted character, who struggles with his decision to rebel against society or continue passively living in a boring world.

Once Jonas learns the truth about release, he is appalled and heartbroken. Jonas's decision to save Gabriel's life and travel to Elsewhere demonstrates his courage and selfless personality. By rescuing Gabriel from being released, Jonas risks his life and embraces an uncertain future. During Jonas's journey to Elsewhere, he displays his compassionate nature by transferring pleasant memories to Gabriel, and he proves that he is resourceful by living off the land.

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What are some character traits of Jonas in The Giver?

Throughout the novel, Jonas is an insightful, sympathetic, brave individual, who risks his life by saving Gabriel from being released. At the beginning of the novel, Jonas is depicted as a morally upright individual who listens to his conscience and obeys the community's rules. Despite Jonas's intelligence, he is relatively naive about the makeup of his community because he has not been exposed to the truth. After receiving his Assignment to be the community's next Receiver of Memory, Jonas gains some perspective about life and the world around him. Jonas courageously endures painful sessions with the Giver; he experiences the worst memories throughout the world. After witnessing his father execute an infant during a release ceremony, Jonas makes up his mind to flee the community. Instead of selfishly leaving everybody behind to deal with his painful memories, Jonas rescues Gabe and journeys into the wilderness with him. Overall, Jonas's insight, bravery, and empathy are several significant character traits that make him an unforgettable protagonist.

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What are some character traits of Jonas in The Giver?

Jonas is thoughtful, careful, and has the Capacity to See Beyond that makes his susceptible to being a Receiver of Memory.

Jonas is different from other eleven year old boys in the community.  For one thing, he has the Capacity to See Beyond.  He does not know this until the Ceremony of Twelve, when he is selected as Receiver of Memory.

[The] current Receiver has told us that Jonas already has this quality. He calls it the Capacity to See Beyond." (ch 8, p. 63)

Jonas is thoughtful.  Unlike others in his community, he does not just accept the way things are.  He is able to wonder and question.  This is important when he is faced with training as the Receiver of Memory, and learns that his community is not the perfect place he thought it was.

Jonas is careful about most things. Like other children, he has been taught to be careful with language so as never to lie or unintentionally offend someone.  Jonas is “careful about language” (ch 1, p. 3).

Jonas feels uncomfortable because he has pale eyes, and there are few children in his community that do.  He does not realize that this is a genetic connection that allows him the Capacity to See Beyond until he experiences an apple changing color.  He later learns that this means he has the ability to see color.

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

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What character traits does Jonas display in the book The Giver?

You could go about this answer in two different ways.

First, you could scour the text for examples of direct characterization, because those bits of text will tell you exactly what character traits that Jonas has. For example, chapter 1 tells readers that Jonas obediently follows the rules of society. We are also told during his ceremony that Jonas is intelligent, is courageous, is wise, and has integrity. He also has something called the "Capacity to See Beyond."

Second, throughout the text, readers can find indirect characterization examples that support those character traits. For example, Jonas shows courage when he intentionally leaves the community with Gabriel in order to save him from release and fight against the Sameness. This also shows that Jonas is selfless. He is putting himself at great risk for Gabriel and the rest of the community. He has a strong moral compass because he is willing to do what is right to fight the Sameness and bring back diversity and choice to his community. Jonas also has perseverance. We don't know what happens to Gabriel and Jonas at the end of the story, but we do know that Jonas refuses to give up.

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What character traits does Jonas display in the book The Giver?

Jonas is a twelve year old member of the community.  He is of average size, because no one stands out in the community.  However he does have light colored eyes, gray eyes, and these are very rare.  Other than that, he physically resembles the others. Jonas's personality traits do make him unique.  During the ceremony of twelve, Jonas is described as having intelligence, integrity, courage, and the capacity to see beyond.  Jonas can see colors where others cannot.  He also realizes that he is different from others.  When he begins his training, he demonstrates all of the traits the elders seemed to think he had.
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What are some of Jonas's character traits in The Giver?

Jonas is more fully human in the traditional sense of the word than the other residents of his community, with the exception of the Giver, of course. In a sense, Jonas is an anachronism in his society because he possesses properties that have been dulled in the sensibilities of others. 

  • Humane

Jonas possesses tenderness and sympathy for others. In the early chapters, during the family session Jonas tells his parents that he worries about Asher's Assignment in life.

Later, as he becomes the Receiver, Jonas begins to understand true human suffering, and his sympathies are greatly aroused. Certainly, after he watches a "release," Jonas is appalled at the insensitivity of such an inhumane act. This recognition is what motivates Jonas to flee his dystopian community.

  • Perspicacious

Jonas is capable of deduction and sound reasoning; he has keen insight and is able to understand the significance of things. As he attains memories from the Giver and learns the truth of things, Jonas perceives how his supposedly perfect society is really limited and actually cruel in its strict regulations of thought and behavior. Having watched a Release, a shocked Jonas understands that his society has serious problems and is actually very restrictive.

After Jonas escapes from his community with Gabriel, having reached the opposite side of the river, he stops and looks backward.

The life where nothing was ever unexpected. Or inconvenient. Or unusual. The life without color, pain, or past.

Jonas rejects the life of Sameness and predictability because he realizes that it is stultifying and dehumanizing.

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

Jonas is an introspective young boy who thinks more deeply about life as compared to his peers as seen when he is in constant meditation. He is intelligent as seen when he quickly grasps an understanding of what the Giver is teaching him. Jonas is brave as seen when he runs away with Gabriel and everything they go through in their new environment which is at times characterized by extreme weather. Jonas is compassionate as shown when he takes the risk to save Gabriel who is about to be “released” by his father. Jonas is polite and humble as seen when he accepts his designated role but does not detach himself from his friends instead he does not let the attention of being a Receiver bother him. Jonas is honest as seen through his communication with the giver and his friends. 

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

Jonas is introspective.  He wonders which word best describes his feelings, and he questions himself and his reaction as he learns about his community.

Apprehensive, Jonas decided. That's what I am. (Chapter 1, p. 4)

Jonas is compassionate.  Jonas worries about The Giver, and accepts pain so The Giver won’t feel it.  He also gives some of his new memories to Gabe to soothe him.

The Giver looked up at him, his face contorted with suffering. "Please," he gasped, "take some of the pain."

Jonas helped him to his chair at the side of the bed. Then he quickly removed his tunic and lay face down. "Put your hands on me," he directed, aware that in such anguish The Giver might need reminding. (Chapter 15, p. 118)

Jonas does not hesitate to help The Giver.  He only considers easing The Giver’s pain, and not the pain he will feel himself.

Jonas is humble.  He never tries to abuse his power, and he is uncomfortable with respect he feels he has not earned.

"Oh, please," he replied uncomfortably. "Call me Jonas." (Chapter 10, p. 73)

Jonas is a complex character, and these quotes help describe him.

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How is Jonas's personality revealed in The Giver?

Jonas is the narrator and protagonist of The Giver, and therefore a well-developed character.  Since you asked for two quotations, let’s begin with the beginning.  The exposition of a story is very important for introducing the reader to the setting and characters.  Since the world of this book is so different from ours, author Lois Lowry begins by allowing us into Jonas’s head in order to explore the setting of the story.

I think a good quotation from the beginning of the book that demonstrates Jonas’s personality is this one from chapter 1, page 4:

He had waited a long time for this special December.  Now that it was almost upon him, he wasn’t frightened, but he was … eager, he decided.  He was eager for it to come.  And he was excited, certainly.  All of the elevens were excited about the event that would be coming so soon.

But there was a little shudder of nervousness when he thought about it, about what might happen.  Apprehensive, Jonas decided.  That’s what I am.

This quotation demonstrates several of Jonas's personality traits.  He is careful, but also self-aware.  He worries about uncertainty, but he approaches it with excitement too.  These feelings, and this quotation, foreshadow the important event that will happen at the ceremony.  Jonas will be chosen as the new Receiver of Memory.

Another important quotation that describes Jonas is near the climax of the story, when Jonas has just watched his father inject and kill the newborn twin.  The video sends him reeling, and for the first time he realizes the dark undercurrent of his community.  On page 152, at the beginning of chapter 20, after the voice comes over the speaker:

“I will take care of that, sir.  I will take care of that, sir,” Jonas mimicked in a cruel, sarcastic voice.  “I will do whatever you like, sir.  I will kill people, sir.  Old people?  Small newborn people?  I’d be happy to kill them, sir.  Thank you for your instructions, sir.  How may I help y-“ He couldn’t seem to stop.

Jonas does not stop until The Giver shakes him.  His response is physical, visceral and raw.  He questions everything he has ever known, and he is left feeling hopeless.  By mocking the speaker, he is mocking the structure of the community.  The speaker is symbolic of control and sameness.  For the first time, Jonas has a strong feeling about his own community.

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How does Lois Lowry present Jonas to readers in The Giver?

When we first meet Jonas, he is an eleven year old worried about an upcoming important event.  He is concerned because it is almost December, and he is trying to find the right words to express how he feels.  In doing this, Jonas flashes back to an interesting memory in which a plane mistakenly flew over the community, scaring everyone.

It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened. No. Wrong word, Jonas thought. (ch 1, p. 1)

Jonas remembers hearing an announcement to go inside, and obeying instantly.  He was frightened then, a “deep, sickening feeling of something terrible about to happen” (p. 1).  From this small event we learn quite a lot.  First, we learn the Jonas is introspective and thoughtful.  He is curious, because at first he was “fascinated” and not scared.

We learn that his society is tightly controlled, and he is accepting of this.  We also learn that people who make mistakes are “released,” but we don’t know what the word means.   Jonas tells us that he Jonas “was careful about language” (p. 3).  He knows that this December will be very special, and he finally determines that he is “apprehensive” (p. 4).

Jonas is the only character who actually appears in the first chapter.  Most of it is Jonas’s thoughts and memories.  By introducing two powerful person memories—the plan flying overhead, and Asher’s apology—we are introduced to the importance of memories and the importance of Jonas to the story.  From the beginning, Jonas is singled out.

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

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How would you describe Jonas in the book/movie The Giver?

Jonas's character does not change substantially from the book to the film, so the description of him in both remains the same. 

We know that the Elders in his community see him as intelligent, courageous, and as having integrity. They also feel strongly that he has "the ability to acquire wisdom" (Ch.8). All of these traits are why he is chosen as the new Receiver of Memory.

Based on his actions in the book, we can also describe Jonas in the following ways (with a few examples of each):

  • compassionate (his interactions with several characters, including the Giver and Gabe)
  • empathetic (his interactions with several, including Larissa in Ch. 4)
  • a critical thinker (his questioning of the community)
  • unique (being chosen as the Receiver of Memory)
  • loving (especially in his interactions with Gabe)
  • sensitive (his ability to feel the memories so deeply)
  • risk-taking (he leaves the community)
  • self-sacrificing (he risks everything to save Gabe from release)
  • self-aware (he knows his own weaknesses and tries to avoid them)
  • reflective (he constantly evaluates his own behavior and thoughts)
  • contemplative (an extension of his reflections)
  • gifted (he can see beyond)
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What are Jonas's character traits from The Giver?

Jonas is the protagonist of The Giver and is chosen by the elders to become the Receiver of Memory. This means that he will be asked to bear all of the pain and suffering of all the world, past and present, in order for his community to live in peace and ignorant happiness. When Jonas is selected for this position in the community, during the Ceremony of Twelve, the Chief Elder explains that Jonas has all of the character traits needed in order to accomplish such a daunting task for the rest of his life. In chapter 8, the whole community and Jonas are told that he has intelligence, integrity, courage, wisdom, and the capacity to see beyond. (The capacity to see beyond actually means that he can sometimes see color, but he doesn't realize that completely until after the Giver explains it to him later on.) The Chief Elder does not truly understand the last two character traits because those actually come to Receivers as they receive memories that hold these mysteries. Jonas is scared to assumed such a mysterious assignment, but he says he will do it anyway--showing his courage. 

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What are the characteristics of Jonas in the book The Giver?

I think Jonas's most important characteristic is the fact that he is empathetic.  It's probably the main reason why he chosen to be the new receiver of memory.  He has the ability to relate to and understand the emotions of others.  That's pretty amazing considering that his society has basically eliminated emotions completely with the Sameness.  For example, Jonas is deeply disturbed by the war games that the kids are playing because he finally understands what war causes people.  

"Asher," Jonas said. He was trying to speak carefully, and with kindness, to say exactly what he wanted to say. "You had no way ofknowing this. I didn't know it myself until recently. But it's a cruel game. In the past, there have--"

Jonas is also a very caring boy.  That goes with empathy of course, but it goes beyond empathy.  Jonas cares for others, their safety, and their lives.  It's why he is willing to risk his own life in order to save his brother's life.  

That last example also highlights a third trait of Jonas.  He is brave.  He shows bravery throughout the book.  He is brave to continually go back to the Giver in order to receive what he knows will be painful memories.  He is also brave for standing up to the Sameness and trying to get his brother and himself to a new community.  He knows it will be dangerous, and he doesn't know anything of what to expect.  Stepping out into so many unknowns is quite brave. 

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From the narrator's point of view, what is directly told about Jonas's character in The Giver?

Although we learn most about Jonas through indirect characterization, there are some examples of direct characterization given to us by the narrator.

Jonas is an eleven-year-old boy who is looking forward to the Ceremony of Twelve. He lives with his father, mother, and Lily, and he is the oldest child.

We know that Jonas is obedient and complies with all rules of his community as best as he can. In the beginning, Jonas recalls a time when an aircraft had flown over the community:

Then all of the citizens had been ordered to go into the nearest building and stay there, immediately, the rasping voice through the speakers had said, leave your bicycles WHERE THEY ARE.

Instantly, obediently, Jonas had dropped his bike on its side on the path behind his family’s dwelling. He had run indoors and stayed there, alone.

It is the "instantly, obediently" modifiers here that directly indicate how Jonas approaches the rules and expectations of his society.

Unlike his friend Asher, who is always in trouble for misusing vocabulary and confusing intended meanings, the narrator notes that "Jonas was careful about language." This again fits with his compliant personality.

The narrator also conveys that Jonas has no clue what job assignment the Ceremony of Twelve will bring him:

He hadn’t the slightest idea what Assignment the Elders would be selecting for his future, or how he might feel about it when the day came.

Jonas has spent time in lots of different areas doing volunteer work and can't determine one that seems especially well-suited for him. Thus, he is quite anxious about how the Elders will choose a job that won't be a disappointment.

When the Giver begins to transfer memories of pain to Jonas, we get another bit of characterization:

Jonas tried to be brave.

Jonas asks the Giver to give him some of the pain to lessen the Giver's burden. He doesn't press when denied relief-of-pain medication. He shows up day after day in his duties, bravely accepting the challenge to take all the memories for the community—even the painful ones.

After being given the memory of war, Jonas's bravery falters a bit:

Jonas did not want to go back. He didn't want the memories, didn't want the honor, didn't want the wisdom, didn't want the pain. He wanted his childhood again, his scraped knees and ball games. He sat in his dwelling alone, watching through the window, seeing children at play, citizens bicycling home from uneventful days at work, ordinary lives free of anguish because he had been selected, as others before him had, to bear their burden.

However, these fears are immediately replaced with the realization that he doesn't have a choice. The choice has been made for him.

Direct characterization is used as a supplement to Jonas's thoughts to show how Jonas is a dynamic character, changing through the experiences of memories and wanting change for his community, too.

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