The Giver

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The Giver Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, Jonas joins Asher and their friend Fiona at the House of the Old, where they do their volunteer hours. When they become Eights, children are required to start volunteering, but they are allowed to choose where they go—one of the few choices they are allowed. Unlike other children, who usually pick a single volunteer slot and sick with it, Jonas has volunteered at many places. His changing interests are the reason he is uncertain about what his Assignment will be.
The choice that children have regarding where they volunteer is negated somewhat by the fact that volunteering itself is not a choice. Again, Jonas stands out because he has not been drawn to a certain kind of volunteering, as most other children have.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
On that particular day, Jonas helps bathe an old woman named Larissa. He notes that only babies and the elderly are allowed to be seen naked—even adults are not allowed to see each other naked. However, Jonas doesn't understand this rule, and likes the human contact that bathing Larissa gives him.
The community wants to eliminate strong emotions, so it makes sense to forbid nakedness and the passion it can inspire. Jonas's questioning of this rule shows that he is starting to have some differences with his society.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Larissa joyously tells Jonas that her friend Roberto was released yesterday after a beautiful ceremony. She says Roberto's whole life story was told before he was led into a private room to be released, and that he was very happy about it. Jonas asks where people go when they are released, but Larissa says no one knows except the Committee.
Jonas is uncomfortable with the idea that certain knowledge is forbidden. The fact that an institution cares for the elderly shows the lack of family connection. The society is purely practical, with no human bonds of love.
Themes
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon