The Giver Summary

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry is a utopian novel about a boy named Jonas who lives in a futuristic society which has tried to relieve its citizens of choices to ensure sameness, fairness, and equality. Jonas lives with his younger sister Lily and his parents, his father is a Nurturer and his mother works in the Department of Justice. Every December they hold a ceremony where each child moves up a year in school and receives special privileges. Jonas, who is eleven when the book begins, will have his future job assigned to him. Jonas has pale eyes, which are rare in his society, but he notices that Gabriel, a child who his father cares for and sometimes brings home for extra help, has them too.

Each morning the family is supposed to share their dreams with one another. Jonas doesn't often dream, but when he does share a dream that he has about Fiona, a girl in his class, his mother tells him to begin taking a pill every morning that will stop these "stirrings." Every evening the family shares their feelings from the day and encourages each other to work through them.

The day of the ceremony arrives and the students sit in their birth order for that year; fifty children are born each year through birthmothers, which is a job in their society. Jonas is number nineteen, but when it comes time for his turn, the elders skip him. At the end the Chief Elder comes forward and apologizes to the community for making them feel uncomfortable, and they accept her apology. She explains that Jonas will not be assigned a typical job; instead, he has been selected as the new Receiver of Memory. Jonas goes home with a list of rules for this new position, of which he was completely unaware. Some of the more shocking rules say that he cannot discuss his training, he can't ask for medicine or be released, and he is allowed to lie.

Jonas shows up at the annex behind the House of the Old and meets the old man who will train him. Jonas is surprised to find a door with a lock and an off button next to the speaker for announcements. The current Receiver explains that his job will be to transmit to Jonas memories of the past. He places his hands on Jonas's back to pass along memories, such as one where Jonas experiences sledding. Since he is passing these memories onto Jonas, he will be called the Giver.

Jonas develops his ability to see beyond when the Giver transmits colors to him. Unfortunately, the Giver also has to pass along painful memories, such as injuries, starvation, and war. Jonas has never experienced pain in his life, and he finds it difficult to deal with, especially since he can't talk to anyone about it. He asks the Giver about the girl they tried to train as a Receiver ten years earlier. The Giver says her name was Rosemary, and she was his daughter. She was not able to handle the painful memories, so she requested to be released. Jonas learns what release means when he watches a video of his father injecting an infant with a syringe to the forehead in order to kill it. Rosemary injected herself with the syringe in order to die.

Jonas and the Giver both know that their society needs to change. They have no real choices, so they don't experience true feelings, such as love. They come up with a plan to help the community and to free Jonas. Jonas will escape and as he leaves, his memories will be set free into society. The Giver will then help the community work through those feelings and show them the value of things that they have taken away, such as marriage and extended families.

At the last minute, Jonas decides to take baby Gabriel with him because he finds out he has been scheduled to be released. This change alters Jonas's plan so that he must ride his bicycle to leave town instead of hiding in a vehicle. As they ride, Jonas has to be careful of search planes using heat sensing technology to locate them. He passes on cold memories to himself and Gabe so that they will not be detected. After many days and as they are nearing starvation, Jonas comes to the top of a snow-covered hill. He finds a sled sitting there, just like the one he rode in his first memory, and he seems to be headed to Elsewhere, a place where people can take care of him and Gabe.

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The Giver Chapters 1 - 3 Summary
The Giver Chapters 1 - 3 Quiz
The Giver Chapters 4 - 6 Quiz
The Giver Chapters 7 - 9 Quiz
The Giver Chapters 10 - 12 Quiz
The Giver Chapters 13 - 16 Quiz
The Giver Chapters 17 - 20 Quiz
The Giver Chapters 21 - 23 Quiz
The Giver Chapters 4 - 6 Summary
The Giver Chapters 7 - 9 Summary
The Giver Chapters 10 - 12 Summary
The Giver Chapters 13 - 16 Summary
The Giver Chapters 17 - 20 Summary
The Giver Chapters 21 - 23 Summary
The Giver Important Characters
Literature Summaries

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