The Giver Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

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Analysis & Themes

The Giver gives Jonas a memory of falling from the sled, breaking his leg and scraping his face on ice. In agony, Jonas begs for medicine to relieve the pain. The Giver refuses, and Jonas remembers the rule in his instruction file.
The Giver's refusal to give Jonas pain medication indicates that he still believes in, or at least follows, the community's rules.
That afternoon, with his leg uninjured but still aching, Jonas goes home feeling lonely because no one else can experience the kind of pain he feels. He realizes why the Chief Elder told him he needed courage.
Through Jonas's experiences, The Giver makes the claim that it is only by facing pain, loneliness, and other trials that a person can grow and develop courage.
After many more days in which The Giver transmits painful memories to him, Jonas, frustrated, asks The Giver why they have to hold all of those terrible memories. The Giver tells him that such pain gives them wisdom. For example, when the Committee of Elders wanted to increase the rate of births in order to have more Laborers, The Giver was able to warn them against it, because he had a memory of terrible hunger. And when the strange plane flew over the community, The Giver told them not to shoot it down because he knew it wasn't a danger.
The Giver's story shows how the Committee, like the community members, just blindly follows the rules set down for it by the community founders. It has no knowledge that it can draw upon to adapt to new circumstances. Even so, The Giver can only try to influence the Committee. He lacks the power and the will to use his wisdom to make decisions himself.
The Giver tells Jonas that people do not want memories of pain. The Receiver's job is so important and honored because he can carry the memories for them. When Jonas voices a desire to change things, The Giver responds that it has been this way for many generations.
The Receiver has been in place for so long that people don't know that they're giving up joy by not having pain. The Giver seems to think that there is no other way for society to work.
Meanwhile, at Jonas's home, Gabriel is growing but is still fretful at night. Jonas's father worries that he may still have to release Gabriel, but he comments that first he will have to release one of the identical twins scheduled to be born soon. Because the community does not allow identical twins, the smaller twin must be released.
Identical twins would have a closeness that is forbidden in the community. The decision between the twins based on size is totally pragmatic and unsentimental: the large twin is more likely to thrive, so the smaller twin will be released.
Jonas wonders where people who are released go. He hopes that release means that the little twin will be sent Elsewhere where he will meet Larissa, the old woman Jonas had bathed and who had recently been released. He has a vision of Larissa welcoming the twin into open arms. But secretly, even from himself, he senses that this is a false hope.
Jonas's intuition that release is not as beautiful as people believe foreshadows his discovery of the true meaning of release in Chapter 19.
Jonas, hoping he can somehow help Gabriel avoid release, asks his father if Gabriel can sleep in his room that night. His father agrees. That night when Gabriel is restless, Jonas puts his hands on him. As he does, he idly thinks about a memory of a beautiful day spent sailing that The Giver transmitted to him, and realizes with a start that he is transmitting the memory to Gabriel. He stops transmitting, but when Gabriel starts to fret again he transmits the full memory. Gabriel is calmed and is able to sleep.
When Jonas first accidentally transmits his memories to Gabriel, he stops, realizing that he was breaking the rules. So when he then decides to transmit the memories to Gabriel after all, Jonas is making a conscious choice—his first real choice—to break the rules of the community in order to try to save an individual.
Worried that he will be reprimanded or worse, Jonas decides not to tell The Giver about what he has done. He frightens himself with the thought that he has more power than he ever realized.
Jonas's newfound power is not only the ability to transmit memories, but also to take action, to choose to break the rules, and to work for the individual good regardless of the will of the community.

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See quotes from Chapter 14