The people of Jonas's community don't understand genuine emotion or pain, because their lifestyles allow no opportunity to experience it. Birthmothers are not allowed to raise their own children. Sex is forbidden and sexual urges medicated away. Adults are not allowed to choose their own spouses. Identical twins are not both allowed to survive because they would be too close emotionally. Every decision made in the community serves a purely practical purpose and is based on the rules set down at the time of the community's establishment, promoting Sameness and leaving no room for sentimentality.
Jonas is unique in that he longs for human closeness even before he meets The Giver. When he bathes Larissa at the House of the Old, he realizes the beauty of touch and intimacy. When he begins his training as Receiver, he realizes that true emotion is only accessible to those who have memory and experience. He also realizes that one can only experience joy and love if one understands pain and loneliness. As he experiences the breadth and beauty of human emotion, Jonas comes to believe that it is cruel to allow people to continue living in numbness. His ultimate escape from the community is an act of love toward those who do not know how to love him in return. By leaving, Jonas is able to give them feeling.