The Giver

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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 3 Quotes
The apple had changed. Just for an instant. It had changed in mid-air.
Related Characters: Jonas
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

Jonas notes that sometimes, the Speaker will announce general reminders of the rules to anonymously shame someone who has committed an infraction. Jonas remembers the one time he has been the target of such shame: when he took home an apple from snack time at school. In this quote, Jonas recalls that he had been drawn to the apple because he noticed something strange about it during a game of catch with Asher. Though everything in the Community is, it's suggested, in black-and-white, something about the apple seemed to become distinctive in mid-air. To further inspect the apple, and to see if the change happened again, Jonas brought it home with him. 

This quote and anecdote mark the first time that Jonas expresses the qualities of a Receiver. The Giver later explains that the change he saw was a brief flash of red, the true color of the apple before the Sameness removed it. Since virtually nothing about life in the Community is a surprise or unexpected, Jonas is shocked when he sees something happen to the apple that he has never seen before. He does not tell anyone about the change because differences are considered rude, and even dangerous, to discuss or point out. Thus, even though the flash of color Jonas sees in the apple happened for just an instant, it sticks with him as one of the only surprises and unexpected things that has occurred for as long as he can remember. 

No one mentioned such things; it was not a rule, but was considered rude to call attention to things that were unsettling or different about individuals.
Related Symbols: Blue Eyes
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

Lily teases Jonas for the light color of his eyes, which are unusual in a Community where most individuals have dark eyes. Jonas forgives Lily for this social transgression since she is young, but as this quote notes, pointing out another's differences is considered very rude in the Community. 

Characters often refer to some ambiguous past event when "the Sameness" was imposed upon the Community. This "Sameness" ensured that differences were completely erased from human existence in the Community to the best of its collective ability. Though this complete (or at least massive effort) at unification reduced conflicts between people, uniqueness and diversity were sacrificed in the process. The taboo on referring to differences is not a rule, as Jonas notes here, but it is a heavily imposed social norm. This suggests that whatever conflict occurred before the Sameness was largely fueled by inherent differences between people, ones that are now suppressed to preserve the peace. 

Besides strife, however, differences can also create bonds in people--they rejoice in their similarities, or celebrate each other's differences, creating diverse networks. The Sameness discourages these bonds between people by constantly removing any possibility for continued association between people--by assigning children jobs by age 12, by dispersing family units after the children are grown up, by separating mates into "Childless Adults" and finally into the House of Old before "release." Associations by their very nature thus exclude others, and potentially cause strife. Thus, individuals are essentially kept emotionally isolated and sterile beyond the artificial rules of sharing feelings and dreams. This ensures that the peace is kept, though it removes much of the humanity that comes with intense feelings between people and understanding each other's differences. 

Chapter 4 Quotes
He just bowed to all of us and then walked, like they all do, through the special door in the Releasing Room. But you should have seen his look. Pure happiness, I'd call it.
Related Characters: Larissa (speaker)
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

Jonas goes to his regular volunteer hours at the House of Old, where he helps bathe an old woman named Larissa. She tells him about the events of her day, in which she and the rest of the House celebrated the release of a man named Roberto. 

In this quote, Larissa recalls the joy that Roberto seemed to exude when he was led away for release. "Release" is a nebulous word for systematic removal from the Community to "Elsewhere." The word is frequently used by the book's characters, most of whom seem to be ignorant to the fact that it is really Community-imposed killing of those deemed unfit for society. The look of joy on Roberto's face likely comes from the fact that he does not know he is being led away to die—perhaps he is happy because he has been celebrated for his individuality, likely for only the second time in his life (the first comes during the Assignment of Twelves, when children received jobs tailored to their abilities and personalities). As the Sameness removes all differences and even birthdays, people are rarely celebrated for their unique lives--that is, until they are about to be "released" to make room for a new, more productive member of society (a newchild is soon named Roberto). This celebration of life right before death makes Community members actually excited for their own release dates, and reduces any discomfort surrounding the notion of being led "Elsewhere" or inquiry into what this morbid practice might be. Release therefore functions as both a form of population and social control. 

Chapter 6 Quotes
If you don't fit in, you can apply for Elsewhere and be released. My mother says that once, about ten years ago, someone applied and was gone the next day.
Related Characters: Asher (speaker)
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

Asher and Jonas discuss how nervous they are about their upcoming Ceremony of Twelves, during which time they will receive their work Assignments. Asher jokes that if he receives an Assignment he hates, such as Sanitation, he'll jump in the river and swim to "Elsewhere," like someone was rumored to have done before. In this quote, Asher notes that if a person does not feel as if they fit into the Community, they can apply for release--like someone did ten years ago.

This quote is illuminating to the fact that neither Jonas nor Asher has any idea what "Elsewhere" is. They assume that it is another Community where people are placed when they are no longer suited to their own. It is also evidence of just how institutionalized the Sameness is in the Community, to the point that its governing bodies agree to release individuals who cannot conform to their rules, rather than the individuals simply leaving or escaping. Though much of the Community's safety and harmony appear to be the hallmarks of an idyllic society, the ritualized killing of nonconforming individuals reveal it to ultimately be a dystopia, likely borne out of some cataclysmic past event. The rules of the Community are so rigid that once a person has been assigned a job, it is very unlikely that it will ever change--the only option is personal removal from the Community. Unity is so heavily valued that outliers even know that they do not fit in, and essentially request suicide rather than live in discord until their government-sanctioned release during old age. 

Chapter 11 Quotes
I have a great honor. So will you. But you will find that that is not the same as power.
Related Characters: The Giver (speaker), Jonas
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

During their first training session, the Giver gives Jonas a memory of sliding down a snow-covered hill, something that does not exist in the Community. Jonas wishes aloud that the Giver could bring back such a delightful activity using his power. In this quote, the Giver points out that while his Assignment brings great honor--as does Jonas's--this is very different than having power. 

The Receiver's job is to contain all the memories--good and bad--that exist from before the Sameness. This is to ensure that they are not present in the Community for anyone else to access. This functions as a form of control for the governing Elders, who impose the Sameness without any discord due to the fact that no one has any memory or concept of what came before their present structured lives. This completely removes any possibility of hindsight for anyone but the Receiver, who is occasionally called upon to advise the Elders. Though he can draw on years and years of memories, he is rarely listened to, leaving him with an unbearable amount of wisdom that he alone knows how to use, and no one else can (or wants to) understand. 

Chapter 12 Quotes
Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back. We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with difference. We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others. >
Related Characters: The Giver (speaker)
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

When Jonas tells the Giver about seeing a change in Fiona's hair, similar to what he saw in the apple, the Giver tells Jonas that he is beginning to see the color red. He explains that before the Sameness, everything was different colors. The fact that Jonas can see "beyond" the colorlessness of the Sameness proves his worth as a Receiver. The Community, explains the Giver, gave up certain choices in order to impose harmony and peace.

The lack of differences that the Sameness imposed upon the Community extends not just to visual blandness, but to emotional sterility as well. By sacrificing almost everything that makes things and people different--the seasons, colors, bonds, biological children, etc.--the Community is largely devoid of strong emotions and feelings. There is rarely such a thing as having a strong affinity or aversion to someone or something since everything is more or less the same, or is at least an understood event or rule that is necessary for the good of the Community.

The Giver and Jonas alone understand the importance of having choice in one's life--it leads to a personal identity created by a series of unique choices that one makes, and leads to a vast amount of self-discovery in the process. A complete lack of choices makes life utterly predictable and indistinguishable from the life of virtually any other member of the Community, give or take a few instances. Despite this overwhelming revelation, the burden of wisdom does not immediately translate into acquisition of power, and the Giver has been unable to bring about any real change to the Community. 

Chapter 13 Quotes
[Jonas] watched them hack the tusks from a motionless elephant on the ground and then haul them away, spattered with blood. He felt himself overwhelmed with a new perception of the color he knew as red.
Related Characters: Jonas
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

While many of the memories that the Giver bequeaths to Jonas are pleasurable, such as ones of sailing and sledding, many of them bring pain and suffering. During one training session, the Giver gives Jonas the memory of an elephant being killed by poachers for the ivory of its tusks. Though Jonas has thus far associated colors with pleasurable memories, seeing the blood of the elephant gives him the sinking realization that colors can represent just as much pain as they do pleasure. 

In the Community, a total lack of colors and differentiation maintains the peace and ensures that no one is uncomfortable or discontent with their circumstances. But the consequence of such a stable existence is a total lack of strong emotions: despair and passion are things that only the Giver and Jonas can understand through memories of war and of love. Without understanding what true pain is, one cannot under what true happiness is, and vice versa. A total lack of comparison to anything beyond what they currently experience results in a very tepid existence for every member of the Community, from birth to release. While it is true that the rules of the Community reduce senseless suffering (like that which Jonas here witnesses), they also completely deprive people of the joyous emotions that can balance out, or even help overcome, the pain of life. Jonas and the Giver alone understand what they are missing out on in life in the Community, and it is literally their job to bear the burden of humanity's collective memories in order to preserve perfect order in their rigid society. 

They were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them.
Related Characters: Jonas
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

Jonas asks the Giver about what the Chief Elder said when she assigned him the role of Receiver: that ten years ago, another Twelve had earned the position, which ended in disaster. The Giver consents to telling him the story of the previous Receiver who requested for release, resulting in all of her memories being free for the Community to access. The fallout was a disaster, and no Receiver had been chosen until Jonas, ten years later. 

Jonas realizes that his life has become much richer and more nuanced since he began to receive memories from the Giver. His ability to see colors makes life more exciting and vibrant, and his new understanding of pain and joy make him appreciate and understand what the people in his life, such as Asher, Fiona, and his parents mean to him. However, the story of the panic that ensued when the memories were released into the Community proves that the sudden influx of such powerful feelings and ideas was too much for citizens of the Community to handle, due to their previously sterile existence. Jonas badly wants to share these emotions and memories with the people he comes to realize that he "loves," an emotion he has never been taught to express before, but realizes that he has no power to share these feelings with Community members. They are completely satisfied with their current existences, he now understands, because they have no comprehension of what any other life could ever look or feel like. 

Sometimes I wish they'd ask for my wisdom more often-there are so many things I could tell them; things I wish they would change. But they don't want change. Life here is so orderly, so predictable-so painless. It's what they've chosen.
Related Characters: The Giver (speaker)
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

The Giver warns Jonas that the secrecy of his position means that he cannot tell anyone, even a future spouse, about the nature of his memories. No one in the Community, not even Instructors, know as much as he does. Yet, the Elders rarely come to him for advice on issues such as changing the rules, though the Giver knows he has much wisdom to impart upon life in the Community. 

In this quote, the Giver reasons that the Elders don't want to hear his suggestions because they like life the way it is: orderly, neat, and utterly devoid of pain. The Community functions on the philosophy that a lack of pain means the presence of happiness; the Giver and Jonas know this is utterly untrue. True humanity results from both suffering and joy, and the two emotions are simply a fact of life. By depriving Community members of physical and mental strife, happiness doesn't automatically fill the void: they are also deprived of understanding what real love, individuality, friendship, and passion are as human emotions. Mistakes are also an intrinsic part of the human experience, and the rigid rules of the Community remove all choice from one's personal life to the point that everything--from one's parents, to one's spouse, to one's death date--is determined by a counsel of Elders. To remove choice is to completely remove individuality, rendering each member another flesh-and-bone unit of a well-oiled machine. Yet it does function, and the counsel is not interested in hearing the Giver's suggestions as to how to make it more vibrant and closer to the natural human experience. 

He wondered what lay in the far distance where he had never gone. The land didn't end beyond those nearby community. Were there hills Elsewhere? Were there vast wind-torn areas like the place he had seen in memory, the place where the elephants died?
Related Characters: Jonas
Related Symbols: The Snow-covered Hill
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

After speaking with the Giver about what happened when the previous Receiver was released, Jonas begins to wonder about what else he has been deprived of as a member of the Community. Though he has never wondered about what existed beyond or before the Community prior to his training, he now starts to long to experience and know more about the world. At this time in the novel, Jonas does not yet know that "Elsewhere" is a euphemism for death, one that Community members use to refer to the place where people go after release. Jonas and his friends assume it is another Community, one different than their own. Jonas begins to long to experience for himself the feelings--both pleasure and pain--that he sees in the Giver's memories, because they are so much more vibrant and rich than anything he has experienced inside the Community. 

It is for this very reason that the Community has a Receiver of Memories. If everyone had access to what life was like before the Sameness, when humans still had choice and passion and love, but also suffering and fear, then it would be much more difficult to impose utter structure and control over everyone inside. Jonas's Assignment is therefore a crucial part of the Elders control of society, and he can wield dangerous power to the sanctity of its rules if his memories are exposed to the public. 

Chapter 14 Quotes
The sled hit a bump in the hill and Jonas was jarred loose and thrown violently into the air. He fell with his leg twisted under him, and could hear the crack of bone. His face scraped along jagged edges of ice… In his agony he perceived the world "fire" and felt flames licking at the torn bone and flesh.
Related Characters: Jonas
Related Symbols: The Snow-covered Hill
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

When Jonas arrives at the Giver's room for training each day after school, he often finds the old man in excruciating pain. The Giver usually shoos him away, and tells him to come back tomorrow. One day, Jonas insists that the Giver give him some of the painful memories so that he can relieve the burden. In this quote, the Giver gives Jonas another memory of sledding on a hill, though with an unhappy ending in the form of an excruciatingly painful broken leg. 

Since the major goal of life in the Community is to eradicate all suffering by reducing differences and strong emotions with a highly regimented way of life, Jonas has never known true mental or physical pain. He can recall once or twice when he crushed a finger or scraped a knee, but these minor aches and pains were always immediately relieved with a pill that acts as a pain panacea. Jonas has never known an unexpected pain that was not quickly cured. It is this first painful memory that shows Jonas why humankind, long ago, worked to create the Sameness that governs his present Community. Though Jonas still wishes his life were made richer by many of the things he has thus experienced in his training, he understands that the reasons behind the Sameness are more complicated than he realized. It also helps him to empathize with the pain of the Giver, a strong emotion predicated on care and understanding of another human being that sterile life in the Community suppresses. By beginning to comprehend what it truly means to experience pain, Jonas is also able to better understand the gravity and importance of pleasurable feelings like friendship or love as counterbalances in the human experience--or at least the human experience as it existed before the Sameness. 

He was not aware of giving the memory; but suddenly he realized that it was becoming dimmer, that it was sliding through his hand into the being of the newchild.
Related Characters: Jonas
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

Since Gabriel sleeps most soundly in Jonas's room at night, Jonas's father consents to letting the baby sleep there when he comes home with him at the end of each day. One night, while trying to calm the crying newchild, Jonas absentmindedly thinks of a happy memory the Giver gave him, and realizes that he feels it slip away as the child's cries die down. Jonas then realizes that, like himself, Gabe is a receiver, and that Jonas has just passed on his first memory. 

Jonas and Gabe both have light eyes, as does the Giver, whereas most members of the Community have dark eyes. This is one noticeable physical difference that separates them from the rest of society and suggests that they are more permeable to seeing "beyond" than the rest of the members of the Community. Jonas often feels very alone after his training sessions, since he cannot discuss the memories or the nature of his work with anyone other than the Giver. He finds kinship in Gabe, a baby who also looks different like he does, and who is also on the fringes of society, as he is in constant danger of being released. Though this new power to Give startles Jonas at first, it inspires within him a bond with Gabe that he does not feel with anyone other than the Giver. This shows that the memories, rather than only frightening members of the Community as they did when the previous Receiver passed away, have the power to heal and bring comfort and wisdom far beyond any rule or counsel can. 

Chapter 16 Quotes
"I couldn't quite get the word for the whole feeling of it, the feeling that was so strong in the room."
"Love," The Giver told him.
Related Characters: Jonas (speaker), The Giver (speaker)
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

Jonas asks what the Giver's favorite memory is, and he offers to give it to Jonas. It is a memory of several generations of people sitting around a green tree with colored lights, and a pleasurable feeling that Jonas does not have a name for. The Giver tells Jonas that the people are grandparents--the parents of parents of children--and that the feeling he experienced was love. 

As a member of a society where strong feelings are repressed, Jonas has no idea that he has not felt the full range of human emotions due to the rules of the Community. Though ritual stipulates that he shares his feelings with his family each evening, and they do the same, this new feeling of love makes Jonas come to realize that everything he has supposedly "felt" his entire life have just been words assigned to the shadows of emotions. By experiencing this feeling of love, Jonas finally has a concept of what it means to feel true bonds between people, unlike anything the strictly divided social system of the Community allows. Jonas only knows how to assign words to very specific feelings, like "apprehension," and is overwhelmed by a feeling that is difficult to contain in a word, though the Giver provides him with "love." It is this memory that will ultimately fuel Jonas to want to leave the Community and release his memories, so that the people that he feels love for will one day understand what it means that their feelings have been restricted, and perhaps reciprocate love for him as well. 

"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. 

The next morning, for the first time, Jonas did not take his pill. Something within him, something that had grown there through the memories, told him to throw the pill away.
Related Characters: Jonas
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

After experiencing the memory of love and giving Gabe part of the feeling of it, Jonas abruptly decides to stop taking his pill. Though he does not quite understand what a "Stirring" is, he remembers how pleasurable it used to be to think and dream of Fiona. Since taking the pill, he no longer has those dreams or feels quite the same about her. Now that he is experiencing so many ideas and feelings through the memories from the Giver, however, Jonas wonders if these experiences may be even more vibrant--like the thoughts of Fiona were--if he stops taking the pills that his Mother gave him as soon as he reported his dreams. After he does so, he immediately begins to see colors everywhere, not just flashes, suggesting that the pill is not just connected to sexual arousal, but to perception of other senses that come with the onset of sexual development. 

By suppressing sexual arousal, the pill allows the Elders to control relationships, mating, and the overall number of members in the population. As there are many feelings associated with such sexual development, it also serves to squelch a number of other feelings that are associated with such desires, including dreams and personal connection. The pill and the feelings it is revealed to suppress show that the "dream-telling" ritual of each morning was likely engineered to reveal when adolescents were beginning to sexually mature, and therefore reveal themselves as "needing" the pill. Though Jonas experiences much more after stopping taking the pill, it makes him feel even more alone in his sensations and desires in a Community of sterile and unfeeling individuals. 

Chapter 17 Quotes
He saw the familiar wide river beside the path differently. He saw all of the light and color and history it contained and carried in its slow-moving water; and he knew that there was an Elsewhere from which it came, and an Elsewhere to which it was going.
Related Symbols: The River
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:

When Jonas rides his bike along the river one day, as he has his whole life, he suddenly sees it differently as a result of the memories: it suddenly has a color to it, and has a history that differentiates it from the rest of the dull and uniform Community. In the Community, where everything is identical to the largest extent it can be as a result of the "Sameness," there is little to no understanding or knowledge of history. If members of the Community were to know of a time before the Sameness, they would no longer be satisfied and complacent with their dull, utilitarian existence devoid of diversity and feeling. However, the past cannot simply go away--thus the Giver and the Receiver are burdened with all the emotions and memories of the entire world, so that the Community can live fully in the present and know only the history of very recent events. 

The Elders also keep the idea of "Elsewhere" very nebulous in the public mind, although Jonas soon finds out that the "release" that leads to this "Elsewhere" is not a movement to another Community, but rather systematic government-imposed death upon those deemed unfit for society. Optimistically, Jonas hopes this "Elsewhere," where the flowing river might lead, could be the places where his memories--good and bad--might take place, and where life could have different flavors and feelings. More than anything, Jonas's training with the Giver inspires him to question his own life in a way neither he nor anyone he knows ever has before. Of course, the rules of "rudeness" in the Community are designed to suppress this kind of curiosity, but as Jonas's Assignment packet stipulates, the rules of rudeness don't apply to him anymore.

He felt such love for Asher and for Fiona. But they could not feel it back, without the memories.
Related Characters: Jonas, Asher, Fiona
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:

Jonas gets into a fight with Asher and some of his friends when they begin to play a game that simulates war. Though he frequently played the game as a child, once he experienced the horrors of war and the senseless death it brings through the memories, he becomes angry about the carelessness with which his friends pretend to attack and kill one another. Fiona finds Jonas distraught, comforts him shortly, and leaves. In this quote, Jonas realizes that though he now understands that he loves his friends Asher and Fiona, they can never love him back.

Like his parents, Jonas knows that his friends' emotional shortcomings are not due to their personal faults, but the society that they have been raised and exist in. In order to preserve peace, strong emotions like fear and love have had to be erased from society. Jonas feels immeasurable sadness at the realization that he and the Giver are the only people in their Community who can truly feel love, and this understanding pushes him further into emotional isolation. Thanks to the pills, forced separation to avoid bonds between people and their biological relations, and the containment of the memories into the Giver and the Receiver, society has no collective understanding that there ever was such a thing as love or fear. The only way for people to understand what they lost with the Sameness, Jonas now knows, is to have them experience the memories for themselves. 

Chapter 18 Quotes
Memories are forever.
Related Characters: The Giver (speaker)
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

The Giver tells Jonas about what happened when Rosemary, the previous Receiver, applied for release: when she went Elsewhere, all of her memories were also released into the Community, and caused widespread panic. Jonas asks what would happen if he drowned in the river, and the Giver warns him severely against anything that would cause his death: only five weeks' worth of memories were released when Rosemary died, but a whole years' worth would escape if Jonas did. Though the Community does its best to suppress all the memories of life before the Sameness, as the Giver notes here, they can never truly go away; "Memories are forever."

Though the people who imposed the Sameness were extremely thorough in ironing out any differences in society--sexual preferences, colors, ages after Twelve, ill-chosen spouses or careers, friendships, relationships, and so on--there was only so much they could do due to the fact that memories never truly go away. Thus, the role of the Receiver was born, a terribly painful and isolating position in which one is given artificial "honor" to bear every joy and every pain felt throughout time. Though Jonas is distraught the more he learns how sterilized his life has been, he and the Giver are mildly comforted by the fact that what they alone can feel will continue to be felt, at least by one singular member of the Community, for the rest of time. No matter how many pills or rules are created, memories will never disappear to an elusive "Elsewhere." 

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. 

Chapter 20 Quotes
"Having you here with me over the past year has made me realize that things must change. For years I've felt that they should, but it seemed so hopeless. Now for the first time I think there might be a way," The Giver said slowly.
Related Characters: The Giver (speaker), Jonas
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

After seeing the video of his father release the newchild, Jonas is inconsolable. He refuses to leave the Giver's room, and demands that he and the Giver do something to force the Community to stop living in ignorance. In this quote, the Giver slowly comes to the conclusion that perhaps there is a way to impose the memories onto the Community, and to help them cope with the onslaught of feelings so that they can finally understand what it means to know of strong emotions. 

Like Jonas, the Giver felt incredibly isolated by his role as Receiver, one that left him completely alone, save for the few weeks that he trained Rosemary. Having known love for her, whom he later reveals to be his daughter, her loss was particularly difficult for him to bear, since no one else in the Community understands what it means to love, let alone lose someone that you love. The only thing giving him the will to continue bearing these memories alone was the belief that by feeling these things, he was infinitely wiser and more human than those who live and die by the Sameness. Yet now, with two minds sharing the memories, the Giver and the Receiver are inspired to find a way to force the Community to bear these memories too, and thus finally feel the joys and pain that the Giver and Receiver currently bear alone. 

Chapter 21 Quotes
Though he had never seen one before, he identified it from his fading memories, for The Giver had given them to him often. It was a bird.
Related Characters: Jonas, The Giver
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

While everyone is at the annual Ceremony, Jonas escapes away from the bounds of the Community with a pack of food and Gabe strapped to his Father's bicycle. After some time, airplanes come trying to look for them, which they deftly hide from. One day, Gabe cries that he sees an airplane, but Jonas looks up and sees something else flying in the sky. He immediately identifies it as a bird, something that he has only seen in memories before, since no animals beyond fish for food exist within the Community.

The sight of the bird gives Jonas the first real-life taste of his own experience of something that he has previously seen only in a memory. It shows him that other things he knows from memories, but not from personal experience, like the ocean and war and elephants and snow and sledding, really do exist in the world and are out there for him to find now that he has escaped from the Community. It also shows the reader that the Sameness exists only within the bounds of the Community, and perhaps other settlements of people exist where all of these ideals previously intangible to Jonas may be right at his fingertips. The sight and understanding of this bird fuels Jonas to keep on pedaling, to save and enrich both he and Gabe's lives. 

Chapter 22 Quotes
If he had stayed in the community, he would not be. It was as simple as that. Once he had yearned for choice. Then, when he has had a choice, he had made the wrong one: the choice to leave. And now he was starving.
Related Characters: Jonas
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:

As they travel farther away from the Community, Gabe and Jonas experience hunger and the cold for the first time in their lives. Though the Community is emotionally repressive, it did provide them with all bodily needs and ensured they were never uncomfortable. In this quote, Jonas desperately wonders if he made the right decision to leave the Community. However, after understanding everything he was missing from his life through the memories, he knows that a life in the Community, even one that was warm and well-fed, would not be a life at all. As he states here, "he would not be." He would not be a human, though he would technically be alive and comfortable. Similarly, Gabe's fussiness meant that he was scheduled to be released by Jonas's Father—even though the family had come to care for him as their own child—simply because he didn't fit into the calm mold of the Community members. This experience has been Jonas's first foray into real choice, and it makes him understand why perhaps all choice was eliminated from society after the Sameness. Still, it can be argued that he really didn't have a choice, if he wanted a life full of feeling and for Gabe to survive. 

He wept because he was afraid now that he could not save Gabriel. He no longer cared about himself.
Related Characters: Jonas, Gabriel
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

As Gabe and Jonas travel on, their conditions worsen, and they do not reach another Community. Both boys become very weak, and in this quote, Jonas weeps not for his own life, but for Gabe's. Though this moment can be interpreted as very tragic, since the boys have no concept of how to fend for themselves in the wild, but Jonas knows they will be killed if they turn back, it can also be interpreted as a triumph: by caring for Gabe's life more than his own, Jonas is expressing true love for another human being, something he would not have likely felt had he stayed in the Community. He risked his own life to save Gabe's--had the baby not been there, Jonas might have had more food and energy to save himself, but the love he came to know and develop meant that he knew he had no choice to leave the child in the Community to be released. Thus, though Jonas knows there is little chance either of them will survive, he is more human than ever before, thanks to his escape from the Community. 

Chapter 23 Quotes
For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.
Related Characters: Jonas
Related Symbols: The Snow-covered Hill
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:

One day during the escape, it begins to snow--Jonas and Gabe's first comprehension of this kind of weather, beyond the memories of sledding. Jonas must abandon his bike and carries Gabe. As they both begin to freeze and Jonas tries to conjure memories of warmth and sunshine, Jonas begins to see flashbacks of many memories: He and Gabe sliding down a hill together on a sled, into a warm room of colored lights, where the family that first taught him love is. 

In this quote, Jonas begins to hear something he has never heard before, but knows the word from the Giver: music. Because memories endure forever, Jonas can hear people doing what he assumes to be "singing" from long ago through "distances of space and time." This quote marks the end of the novel, and it is ambiguous as to what extent this sensation is real for Jonas: it could be that the two boys are finally happening upon a Community where love and warmth are realities, or it could be, sadly, that they are succumbing to the snow and dying. Regardless of what Gabe and Jonas's true fate is, by escaping the Community, they see, feel, and hear more than they ever would in a lifetime in the Sameness. This final experience for both boys, of love, happiness, and music, is something that is worth sacrificing their sterile lives for. Heroically, by leaving, Jonas also sacrifices all of his memories to his Community, as will the Giver when he is released. Perhaps, at this moment back in the Community, the Sameness has finally been broken, and the music Jonas hears behind him is symbolically coming from the changing Community itself.

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