The Giver

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The Giver Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Four weeks later, the community loudspeakers declare an unscheduled holiday. Jonas does not have to go to school. Now that he has stopped taking the pills, his Stirrings have returned. He feels a little embarrassed about the dreams he is having at night, but also has no intention of giving up the pleasure that the dreams give him. He understands that his dreams and the memories that he has gotten from The Giver have given him a new depth of feeling, and he gets annoyed when people use expressions like sadness and anger because he knows that only he has actually felt genuine emotions.
Jonas is now filled not only with the emotions of his training, but the emotions of a regular boy going into adolescence. He has realized that there is nothing wrong with these feelings and his lack of remorse indicates a continuing belief that the way the community is run is wrong. In fact, Jonas now understands that feelings are no more than ideas to the community members, which seems robotic and cruel to him.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Jonas rides his bike along the river. He knows the river must lead to Elsewhere and wonders what Elsewhere must be like.
Jonas's thoughts of escape and a world outside of the community grow stronger.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Returning from the river, Jonas sees Asher and his friends playing a game of war. He tries to explain to Asher that the game is a cruel mockery of the terrible realities of war. Asher doesn't understand him, and angrily responds that he has to play these games because of his job in recreation. Jonas realizes it is hopeless to try to explain all that he has experienced.
Jonas tries to change his friends' behavior by explaining why it's wrong. When his friends can't even conceive of the things he is trying to explain, Jonas sees that only through shared experience would his friends be able to understand what he knows.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Fiona arrives and tries to comfort Jonas, but eventually leaves on her bicycle. Jonas sadly realizes that he loves Asher and Fiona, but that they can never love him back.
Jonas's realization that his friends can't love him further isolates him.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
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When he gets home, Jonas takes comfort in Gabriel, who has now learned to walk and talk, and can say his own name.
Jonas has shared experiences with Gabriel, and their loving connection grows stronger.
Themes
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The identical twins are scheduled to be born the next day, and Jonas's father mentions having to release one of them. Curious, Jonas asks whether his father will personally take the smaller child Elsewhere. His father says no. Instead he will just identify which of the boys has a lower weight, and then someone else from Elsewhere will then come and get the boy. Lily comments about the strangeness of two identical twins growing up separated, one in the community and one in Elsewhere.
Release is an important part of life in the community, but the fact that none of the citizens seem to know what it entails signals to the reader that it is probably something unpleasant. After all, the community tries to shield its members from all unpleasant or uncomfortable experiences.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon