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The Giver | Study Guide

Lois Lowry

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Chapter 15

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 15 of Lois Lowry's novel The Giver.

The Giver | Chapter 15 | Summary



One day Jonas enters the Annex and finds The Giver in tremendous pain. He expects to be sent away, which sometimes happens when The Giver is suffering, but this time The Giver begs him to "take some of the pain." Jonas enters the memory that is torturing The Giver, and finds himself on a battlefield. He hears cries of agony and the thuds of cannons and is vaguely aware that "the colors of carnage were grotesquely bright."

He turns his head and looks into the eyes of a dying boy who begs him for water. Although Jonas realizes he himself is wounded, he finds a canteen and pours water into the boy's mouth even as " a dull blankness slid slowly across his eyes" and the boy becomes silent. Jonas continues to listen to the sound of men and animals dying, and just when he thinks he can bear it no longer, he opens his eyes and is once again on the bed. The Giver looks away, asking Jonas to forgive him.


The memory of warfare is the most intense that Jonas has received. Details of horses, the gray uniform on the wounded boy, and the thud of cannons suggest that this might be a memory from the Civil War, which indicates how many generations of memories could be stored within The Giver's mind.

This memory, though, almost destroys Jonas. The vivid imagery, the "grotesquely bright" colors of carnage, and the fact that the boy he tries to help is roughly his own age make the horrors of war overwhelmingly vivid. The violence and pain are so unbearable that at one point Jonas thinks "he would welcome death himself." The thought is surprising, because in Jonas's community death is never mentioned. There is only "loss" and "Elsewhere," and "release," and Jonas would never have experienced anything remotely resembling the horror he sees around him on the battlefield. This means that not only has Jonas learned about war, he has also begun to understand what death really is, and that it can result from the mindless violence human beings inflict on each other.

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