The color-coded boxes under "Analysis & Themes" below (which look like this: ) make it easy to track the themes throughout the work. Each color corresponds to one of the themes explained in the Themes section of this LitChart.
Analysis & Themes
On the first day of the two-day December ceremony, Assignments for Ones through Eights are given out. Jonas learns that because his father pleaded Gabriel's case to the Committee, Gabriel is allowed one extra year of nurturing to gain weight. He will remain at home with Jonas's family, although the family is required to sign a pledge saying they won't get attached to the newchild.
Jonas's father's plea for Gabriel shows he is more prone to bending rules than other members of society are—a trait that Jonas may have inherited. The pledge the family signs foreshadow the opposite of its intended effect: Jonas will become attached to the baby, despite the rules.
During the ceremony, the Chief Elder, a female, names Ones and gives them to families. One child is named Caleb and is given as a replacement child to a family whose Four, also named Caleb, had fallen into the river and drowned. Jonas remembers the Ceremony of Mourning for the drowned boy, in which everyone murmured the lost child's name softer and softer until it seemed to fade away entirely. When the new Caleb is assigned to the family, there is a Ceremony of Replacement, in which everyone chants the name "Caleb" louder and louder.
The Ceremony of Loss ensures that emotions are dealt with and then stifled, the same way that the pill stifles sexual feelings. Because families aren't actually related, strong family bonds don't exist. And because the community ensures that no one is truly unique, everyone is completely replaceable. As a result, no one in the community feels any genuine grief when someone dies unexpectedly.
When a different newchild is assigned to a family and named Roberto, Jonas realizes that names are given out to replace the names of those who were recently released. This idea makes Jonas uncomfortable.
The reuse of names shows how people in the community are easily replaced. Jonas's discomfort at this practice is unique.
The next day, as the ceremony continues, Sevens are given jackets that button up the front. Prior to this age, children have jackets that fasten at the back, forcing them to rely on others to fasten them, and in turn to learn to depend on others and the group in general. Eights like Lily are given jackets with pockets, so that they can be responsible for their own possessions.
Children in the real world are taught to dress themselves to learn independence. In contrast, in the society of The Giver, reliance on the group is key to the proper functioning of the community.
At ten, girls' braids are cut off and boys' hair is cut shorter so that all boys and girls have the same haircuts. Jonas knows Lily is excited not to have to wear her hair ribbons anymore, when she reaches that age.
Sameness in physical appearance, like the lack of mirrors, discourages individualism.
During lunch, the Elevens worry about their assignments. Asher worries he'll get Sanitation, and tells Jonas that he once heard that someone in Sanitation swam the river and left to join another community. Jonas has never heard of someone joining another community, but he knows that someone who feels that they don't fit in can apply for release.
Through Asher's story, the river becomes a symbol of escape. But community members still think it's better to follow the rules if you want to leave—to ask for release, whatever that might be—rather than taking matters into your own hands and trying to escape.
Jonas also can't imagine someone feeling as if they don't fit into the community. He knows that the Committee considers all decisions very carefully, especially Assignments and Matching of Spouses. The Matching can take years, and then the couple is monitored for three years before they can apply for a child.
Community members are taught that the Committee always knows best, even regarding marriages. This belief strips community members of individuality and makes them childlike. They can't imagine making choices for themselves.
More help on this section...
• See quotes from Chapter 6