The Giver: Chapter 16-20
Chapter 16, Summary
The Giver transfers the memory of Christmas, grandparents, and love to Jonas. The society cannot use the word love. Jonas lies to his parents, his first lie. Jonas continues to give memories to Gabriel. Jonas stops taking the pill.
Chapter 17, Summary
Jonas realizes the loss, the alienation, from everyone in the community because they cannot feel what he’s feeling. Father is given the responsibility to decide which one of a set of twins is to be released because twins are not allowed in the community. Jonas’s memories that are being transferred to him are beginning to affect his function in the community, with his friends and his family.
Chapters 16 and 17, Analysis
Jonas’s first lie is significant because it shows his departure from innocence, his youth. It also is representative of the first lie in the Garden of Eden from the Bible story when Adam and Eve tell their first lie. Jonas makes decisions on his own, a definite sign that he is becoming an adult and also a sign that he is moving further away from the community and its rules. This rebellion is also seen when Jonas stops taking the pill, so he can feel again. Again, he finds that these decisions have their price; his alienation from everyone and everything he has known up to this point.
The Giver tells Jonas about the previous chosen Receiver. Her name was Rosemary, and The Giver tells Jonas that he loved her. He explains that she wanted to experience everything, so he gave her the memory of loneliness and of a child being taken from its parents and other painful memories. She left one day and did not return. Jonas asked if she was not brave enough. The Giver said she had asked for Release, and they gave it to her. Her memories had been transferred back to the people of the community.
Chapter 18, Analysis
Jonas is discovering more about Release as he asks questions of The Giver, who explains the situation with Rosemary, the last person who was being trained before Jonas. Jonas’s curiosity opens up more of the reality of his community, and The Giver also is beginning to see a possibility for change through Jonas—another foreshadowing?
Chapter 19, Summary
Jonas watches his Father commit murder; his father has to kill the twin that was chosen to be released. Up to this point in the novel, Jonas believed that releasing meant being transferred out of the community to another one. He was not aware that it meant death. The Giver lets Jonas watch the procedure on video. The scene caused Jonas so much pain that he felt a “ripping sensation inside himself, the feeling of terrible pain clawing its way forward to emerge in a cry” (151). The Giver tells Jonas about Rosemary’s release. She had asked to administer the syringe of death to herself. So Jonas learns about murder and suicide all at once.
Chapter 20, Summary
Jonas is in shock at learning the reality of his existence and that of his family and friends. The Community has no feelings. Jonas and The Giver decide together that things must change, that the community needs to be made whole again with memories, and they make a plan for Jonas to leave the community. Jonas learns from The Giver that Rosemary was The Giver’s own daughter.
Chapters 19 and 20, Analysis
Chapter 19 is probably the most important chapter because it is the climax of the novel. Two hard facts of life are pounded upon Jonas’s heart in these two chapters: murder and suicide. These are the elements of the novel that created much controversy for the book’s use in schools, but sometimes controversy tends to create more interest in a book, and it definitely was true with The Giver. It is still read and taught in certain schools.
Jonas watches his own father commit murder, but one could argue that the ignorance of the act of murder prevents it from being murder. Since Father did not know that that was what he was going, is he guilty? For Jonas, watching this event threw him literally into the adult world, and he experienced such intense pain from this one event than any he had experienced in his young life. When this happens, a person either becomes hardened toward others or gains tremendous compassion for those who suffer. It is this that again creates tension, frustration, and fear in Jonas and in the reader as well.
Learning about Rosemary’s suicide is another hit upon Jonas’s heart. It is here that he learns about bravery, but what is the cost? Was The Giver brave because it was his own daughter who lost her life, and he did nothing to stop it? Was Rosemary the brave one for giving her own life, and in doing so, all her memories returned to the community? These questions were questions perhaps going through Jonas’s mind.
Out of these two hard facts of life, Jonas and The Giver make a plan for Jonas to leave the community. Likewise, whenever tragedy happens in the real world, people wake up and begin again. This is the lesson that Jonas is learning at this climactic point in the novel.