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The Giver | Chapter 9 | Summary



From the moment Jonas's selection is announced, his life begins to change. For the first time, Jonas feels alone and separate. The family dinner at the dwelling is more subdued than usual, though Jonas's Mother tells him he has been "greatly honored." Eventually, Jonas asks his parents what happened to The Receiver whose selection was a failure. They become uncomfortable, saying only that the girl's name is never to be spoken or given to a newchild. They have no idea what happened to her, only that no one ever saw her again.

Jonas retires to his room to look at the folder of training instructions that he was given at the ceremony. Most Twelves receive fat folders they will study for days or months. Jonas's folder is alarmingly thin. It begins with instructions to go straight to training from school, and directly home afterward. He realizes this leaves him no time to play or be with his friends, two things he has always treasured.

The instructions then become increasingly troubling. He cannot ask for medication for any injury connected to his training. He is not to discuss his training with others, not even the Elders. He is encouraged to be rude and to ask questions of anyone, even questions that would previously have been considered inappropriate. He is not to participate in dream-telling with his family. He is not allowed to request release, though that doesn't worry him because such a thought has never occurred to him. But most startling of all, he is given full permission to lie.

Jonas is especially disturbed by this last instruction. Lying has always been considered one of the worst of transgressions. In fact, the community's emphasis on precision of language is to ensure that no one inadvertently tells a lie. As Jonas continues to turn this particular instruction over in his mind, he comes to a shocking realization. If he has been given permission to lie, who else has? Does Father lie? Does his Mother? And if lying is permitted, how can he believe anything he is told?


This chapter signals a key turning point for Jonas. For the first time, he feels a crack in the bedrock of his beliefs. He suddenly realizes that there is no adult he can trust, and that anything he has been told by an adult in the past may be open to question.

The reader is faced with a similar dilemma. Although Jonas's parents appear to be good people, for example, it's very possible that they know more about life in the community than they have revealed, including what happened to the last Receiver. The terms "release" and "Elsewhere," which no one claims to understand, may not be a mystery at all to certain citizens. In fact, the entire society may be built on a foundation of secrets and lies.

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