The Giver – Literature – Characters

Jonas:
The protagonist of the novel, who is an eleven-year-old boy. Except for his light blue eyes, Jonas seems to be an ordinary boy, like everyone in the community. Later, we discover that he has a special power to see colors when no one else can see them. Therefore, he is chosen to be the next Receiver of the Memory, in the Ceremony of Twelve. In the beginning of the novel, we can see that Jonas is a content boy; he is not so concerned about the society he lives in. He obeys the rules and he is happy with what he has. However, Jonas is wiser than most of the people in his life. We see that when he reads the instructions of his training. Although the people are not allowed to lie, the instructions say that from now on, he can lie. Jonas questions if all the adults can lie and if his parents have ever lied to him. Jonas’s character evolves, as we keep reading. It becomes more complex after he starts his training. Once he learns about love, joy and pain, he gains wisdom and becomes a passionate boy. He feels frustrated when he learns that the people in the community have given up their individuality and freedom. Furthermore, Jonas becomes more sensitive when he realizes that the term ‘’release’’ means not leaving the country but death. Jonas determines to escape the community. By doing that, he will be able to release the memories to the people and save his people from the Sameness. He is a hero because he sacrifices himself for his people without thinking of himself. He takes a new born child, Gabriel, with him to save him from being released. He searches for ‘’Elsewhere’’ where there is still freedom and people care for each other.

The Giver:
The current Receiver of Memory. The Giver is an old man with a beard and pale eyes. Because of the job he is doing, he is lonely. He is not allowed to tell anything to other people, he is living isolated from the people in the community. The Giver trains Jonas and introduces him to new concepts, as he transfers the memories of the past. He is an emotionally strong man who can absorb all the memories of the people in the community. Since he carries the burden of the memories, he suffers from the pain contained within the memories. Most of the time he can be mocking and disappointed since he knows that the people gave up too much when they chose Sameness. In the beginning, he doesn’t believe that the community can change. He lost all of his hope when the previous trainee, his daughter, died because of the pain. But later, when he hears Jonas’s idea of escape, he believes that they can change something. He cares about the people in the community; that’s why he doesn’t go with Jonas because he thinks that the people in the community may need his help. He knows that the people will have some difficulties in handling with the pain and other feelings when they are given their memories. So he decides to stay and help them to control their feelings.

Gabriel:
Gabriel is a newborn child who begins spending nights with Jonas’s family because he needs extra attention and care. Gabriel has pale eyes like Jonas. Jonas also discovers that Gabriel is able to receive memories. Jonas takes care of the baby Gabriel for a while and gives him soothing memories to help him fall asleep. Later, Jonas feels attached to this little baby as he keeps giving memories. Jonas feels love for him because the baby Gabriel is like him. Furthermore, the baby Gabriel is the only innocent and not corrupted human being in the community.

Jonas’s Father:
He works in the Nurturing Center as a Nurturer who looks after new children until they are given to families. In the beginning of the novel, we see him as a caring and considerate man. We can see it when he takes care of the new born baby named, ‘’Gabriel’’. At first, Jonas’s Father seems so affectionate and concerned about helping this new born. But later, we discover that he doesn’t have real affection for Gabriel, even after the baby has lived with them for one year. He has no problem with releasing, which means killing, an innocent baby. He is strictly doing what he has been told to do. He also doesn’t feel any kind of ‘’love’’ for Jonas. For Jonas’s Father, love is an abstract concept and has no meaning. We see it when Jonas asks his father if they love him. His father laughs at Jonas’s question and says he shouldn’t use such a meaningless word.

Jonas’s Mother:
She works at the Department of Justice. She is in charge of punishing people for breaking rules of the community. Jonas’s mother is more unfriendly than the father. She gives advice to Jonas in the beginning of the novel, about the dreams Jonas has. But she is there just a figure of a mother who doesn’t portray a true loving mother. She obeys the rules in the community just like everyone else, and we don’t see a change in her character.
Both Jonas’s mother and father are products of their society and demonstrate the dangers of the oppressive Sameness. They also provide clear contrast to the round characters of Jonas and the Giver.