The Giver | Study Guide

Lois Lowry

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The Giver | Chapter 11 | Summary

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Summary

Jonas lies face down on a bed, and the Elder gently places his hands on the boy's back. Jonas quickly becomes immersed in a memory. He can see swirling flakes and feel the cold, and he even notices that his breath is visible. The word "snow" leaps into his mind, and he becomes aware that he is at the top of a mound and that there is an object beneath him. The new words "hill," "sled," and "runners" present themselves in his consciousness and he has the experience of riding the sled down the hill.

Jonas is exhilarated after the transmission. The Elder seems somewhat tired but remarks that his burden is already lighter because knowledge has been transferred from himself to Jonas. The Elder also explains that the transfer process was exhausting because the memory was pulled from the distant past, before Climate Control and the leveling of hills. When Jonas asks why things like snow and hills no longer exist, the Elder explains that both were lost as part of the world's transition to Sameness, an initiative that had been put in place to make things such as transportation and the growing of food more efficient.

Jonas wishes that hills and snow could sometimes come back, and suggests that the Elder has the power to request that. But the Elder explains that his role is one of honor, not power. The Elder then shares another memory with Jonas. The boy immediately identifies the comfortable memory as "sunshine" and notes that it comes from above. He comments that both this and the snow memory have been pleasurable and wonders why he was warned about pain. The Elder tells him that there will be time for pain later, but he gives Jonas a sense of what it means by passing on the memory of sunburn. Jonas thanks him for the explanation but the Elder doesn't respond, and Jonas notices that he looks weary and perhaps a little sad.

Jonas's last question is a simple one. Because Jonas himself is now the Receiver of Memory, what should he call the Elder? The man responds, "Call me The Giver" (giving meaning to the title of the book).

Analysis

The Giver begins to share memories by placing his hands on Jonas's back. This action is surprising, because Jonas has commented earlier that touching others and seeing another's nakedness were against the rules. It is another reminder of how little intimacy exists in the community.

Through the memories Jonas receives, and his reactions to them, readers learn additional details about the world he lives in. It is apparently a world without seasons, and where the sun is not visible in the sky. This appears to be the result of something called "Climate Control," which resulted in an environment where temperatures are constant and the cold of winter and the warmth of summer are unknown. Climate Control itself appears to be a part of a larger transition to something called "Sameness," which eliminated unpredictable weather and geographical variation, and perhaps is also responsible for the conformity within Jonas's society.

The reasons these initiatives were put in place, and the extent to which they have affected the world as a whole, are not yet clear. The reader senses, though, that much more will be revealed as Jonas receives more memories from the man he now will call The Giver. From The Giver's nonresponse to Jonas's comment about the sunburn, it is also likely that many of the memories will be far more painful, and perhaps include mental and emotional pain as well.

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