As in Jonas goes through an emotional metamorphosis (if you will)Jonas lives in a community where pain, rudeness, and war are non-existent. All children undergoes a ceremony in December every year until they reach twelve years of age, at which point they receive their Assignments, the jobs they will perform as adults. A committee of Elders carefully watches each child in order to determine which adult occupation best suits his or her talents and interests. The committee also takes the greatest care in matching spouses in order to ensure stable marriages. No couple is allowed to raise children until the committee determines they are capable of being good parents.
Every day, families undergo rituals of sharing, in which they analyze their feelings and dreams with one another. As his Ceremony of Twelve approaches, Jonas is apprehensive because he has no idea what Assignment he will receive. His parents try to allay his fears by explaining that the committee takes Assignments very seriously, so they rarely make the wrong choices. Meanwhile, Jonas’ family begins temporarily caring for a newchild, or infant, named Gabriel. Gabriel is lagging behind the other newchildren in development, so Jonas’s father, a Nurturer, decides to care for Gabriel in his home at night in the hopes that it will help Gabriel catch up with the other newchildren. If Gabriel fails to meet the standards of normal development, he will have to be “released.
” Release of a newchild is a sad event because Jonas’ father and the other Nurturers feel that they have failed to do their jobs. The release of the elderly is a celebrated event because it signals an acknowledgment of productive life-long contribution to the community. Release is also used as a punishment for those who break the community’s rules. Jonas does not know exactly what release means, but he thinks that it means sending people to live “Elsewhere”–away from the community. When the day of the Ceremonies arrives, Jonas discovers that he has been selected to be the next Receiver of memory, the position with the highest honor in the community.
Ten years before, a girl named Rosemary was chosen, but she failed to live up to expectations. Jonas learns that it is now forbidden to even speak her name aloud. He learns that his training will involve great pain, but that the current Receiver is sure that Jonas is strong enough to endure it. Jonas receives a sheet of instructions informing him that he is not allowed to discuss his training with anyone. He is also exempt from the rules regarding rudeness; he is allowed to ask a question of anyone and receive an answer. He is also permitted to lie.
Jonas is both proud and afraid to have been chosen for such an honorable role. The current Receiver, now known as the Giver (since Jonas is the new Receiver), must transmit the memories of the whole world to Jonas. The Receiver’s chief role is to use the wisdom these memories give him in order to advise the committee in shaping future policy for the community. Through these memories, Jonas comes to experience the deepest sufferings and the deepest joys of the past. He learns that the community eliminated things such as snow, color, and love long ago in order to make itself into a utopia.
Over time, Jonas becomes increasingly alienated from his community because he sees a rainbow of colors where they see nothing but shades of gray. Their emotions are only a shadow of what he experiences through his memories. He begins to question whether it was worth it to sacrifice so much to create a utopian community. Meanwhile, he learns that a Birthmother is due to have identical twins and that his father will have to choose which of the newborns to “release. ” The Giver allows Jonas to watch a videotape of the Ceremony of Release. Jonas is horrified to discover that “release” is a euphemism for killing.
The Giver explains that Rosemary was unable to deal .