The Giver

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Jonas's Father Character Analysis

A kind, caring man, Jonas's father is a Nurturer who looks after newchildren until they are given to families. He becomes attached to the babies he cares for and breaks small rules for their sakes, such as learning their names and bringing Gabriel home to look after him better. However, Jonas's father likes the way the community is structured, and because he does not understand what death means, he believes it is right to release children if they are too weak to be given to families. Although he claims not to believe in love, Jonas's father comes close to showing loving emotions to his children. Jonas feels love and affection for his father, which is why he feels betrayed when he discovers that his father is responsible for killing the babies. Jonas's father shows the limitations that the community places on those who might otherwise be fully loving individuals.

Jonas's Father Quotes in The Giver

The The Giver quotes below are all either spoken by Jonas's Father or refer to Jonas's Father. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Houghton Mifflin edition of The Giver published in 2012.
Chapter 2 Quotes
After Twelve, age isn't important. Most of us even lose track of how old we are as time passes.
Related Characters: Jonas's Father (speaker)
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

Jonas is decidedly apprehensive about the Ceremony of Twelves, during which time he will be given the Assignment that determines what job he will work in for the rest of his life. Jonas discusses the Ceremony with his parents, and in this quote, Jonas's Father notes that after age Twelve, there are no more age ceremonies, as Twelve marks the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood. After this time, adults often forget what age they are, suggesting an absence of birthdays within the Community. 

As age is something that differentiates people, and a birthday is a day in which one is singled out, age is all but erased after twelve in this society that values sameness. After this time, growth is not as dramatic as it is during childhood (a time in which it would be difficult to ignore the fact that children are at varying stages of development due to age) and secondary sex characteristics are ignored by Community members thanks to a pill that suppresses sexual arousal. When Community members are assigned their jobs, very little about their lives changes from year to year, beyond being assigned a Mate and children, so it becomes difficult to differentiate the personal passage of time. This quote shows that Sameness seeps not just into the rules and design of Community life, but even into personal thoughts and perception of one's life. Life becomes about being a productive member of the community, not an individual with a unique existence—and not even  a being experiencing time as a marked phenomenon. 

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Chapter 16 Quotes
"Do you love me?"
There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle. "Jonas. You, of all people. Precision of language, please!"
Related Characters: Jonas (speaker), Jonas's Father (speaker)
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

After the Giver shows Jonas his favorite memory--the love between family members--Jonas takes advantage of his new ability to ask whatever questions he wants, and he asks his parents whether they love him. In this quote, they scold him for using such a general word, since precision of language is an important part of maintaining accuracy in their Community. Their incredulous response immediately tells Jonas that not only do they not love him, but that they have no comprehension of what the word love even means. 

Life within the Community is designed to discourage close bonds between people, indicated by the ways in which Mates and Children are assigned by the Elders, and then sent to live in different parts of the Community when they reach a certain age. Thus, strong bonds between people don't have time to develop, and are not predicated on intrinsic biological relationships between people. Similarly, the pill that people take to suppress their "stirrings," or sexual impulses, likely serves to suppress strong emotions between humans as well. "Precise language" therefore comes to mean that members of the Community are bound to feel only things that they can put into concrete terms. Complex and strong emotions like love cannot be put into words, and are therefore not understood or felt by most members of the Community. With this question, Jonas realizes that though he now knows what love means--and does feel it for his family and friends--that their lives are designed in such a way that they can never feel it back. 

Chapter 19 Quotes
He killed it! My father killed it! Jonas said to himself.
Related Characters: Jonas (speaker), Jonas's Father
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

One day, Jonas asks the Giver about the true nature of release, and where people go when they are sent "Elsewhere." The Giver shows Jonas a video of the release that his Father performed earlier in the day on the smaller of a set of twins born (due to the fact that the Rules state there can only be 50 children in any age group in a given year, and that only one of each set of twins is allowed to remain in the Community). Jonas's father injects the newborn with a mysterious substance, and it almost instantly dies. Jonas is horrified to realize that to be released is to be killed. 

In watching this video, Jonas finally comes to understand that the "Elsewhere" that people go to after release is really death. His father, he now knows, killed a perfectly healthy newborn simply because of the Community's arbitrary rules about its number of citizens. In killing the child, his father did not seem upset or guilty about his actions, showing that he neither understood exactly what he was doing nor was it the first time he had performed such a senseless release. Though many of the Community's rules seem to have good intentions, the systematic killing of people deemed unfit for society marks it as a mostly dystopian, rather than idyllic, way of life. After seeing this video, Jonas understands further what is at stake with his acquisition of memories and rare understanding of love, pain, and what it means to be a human. 

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Jonas's Father Character Timeline in The Giver

The timeline below shows where the character Jonas's Father appears in The Giver. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Jonas's father is a Nurturer, which means he cares for the community's babies, or newchildren. He explains... (full context)
Chapter 2
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
After sharing, Jonas's parents ask to speak with Jonas alone. Jonas's father tries to calm his fears by telling... (full context)
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Jonas and his parents discuss the annual ceremonies. At the ceremony of One, the 50 babies in that year's... (full context)
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Jonas's father tells him that after the Ceremony of Twelve, when children get their Assignments, age is... (full context)
Chapter 3
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
The next day Jonas's father brings home Gabriel. Although mirrors are rare so that he has only seen his own... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...to take off her clothes and bathe with him, but she kept refusing. After Jonas's father and Lily leave, Jonas's mother explains that Jonas is experiencing Stirrings, which are normal for... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 9
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
At the evening meal, Jonas asks his parents what happened to the person selected for Receiver ten years ago. His father tells him... (full context)
Chapter 14
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
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... (full context)
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Chapter 16
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
...asks who the two old people were, and The Giver tells him they are called grandparents. Jonas has never heard of Grandparents. In the community, parents aren't a part of their... (full context)
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
At home that evening, Jonas asks his parents if they love him. They laugh at the question and chide him for using such... (full context)
Chapter 17
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... (full context)
Chapter 21
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Jonas and The Giver's plan hits a snag that night: at dinner, Jonas's father tells the family that the previous night he brought Gabriel to a Nurturing Center to... (full context)