The Giver

Pdf fan
Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
The River Symbol Icon
The river forms a border of the community before continuing on to Elsewhere. As a border, the river comes to symbolize escape—crossing the river means leaving the community. Because it takes the life of the four-year-old Caleb, the river also symbolizes the danger inherent in that escape.

The River Quotes in The Giver

The The Giver quotes below all refer to the symbol of The River. 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 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.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Giver quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire The Giver LitChart as a printable PDF.
The giver.pdf.medium

The River Symbol Timeline in The Giver

The timeline below shows where the symbol The River appears in The Giver. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice 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. (full context)
Chapter 18
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 wonders what would happen if he fell in the river and died accidentally. The Giver tells him that memories are forever, and that all of... (full context)
Chapter 20
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
...supplies. On the morning of the annual Ceremony, Jonas will leave his bicycle by the river. Meanwhile, The Giver hides Jonas in the trunk of a vehicle and drives Jonas a... (full context)
Chapter 21
The Individual vs. Society Theme Icon
Freedom and Choice Theme Icon
Feeling and Emotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
...memories of courage he had expected to have from The Giver, he rides across the river and out of the community. (full context)