The Giver – Jonas’ Characterization




“You may lie” is one of the things that should never be said in the world of The Giver. The Giver is a novel about a dystopian future where the government controls the people by controlling their individual freedom. This dystopia is enclosed, and the people do not know anything about the world except for their community. The author Lois Lowry depicts Jonas, the protagonist, as a character that undergoes an extreme change from beginning to end.

Jonas’ perspective and views change according to what he has experienced through time and who he encounters. At the beginning of the story, Jonas appears ignorant and unconcerned about his monotone lifestyle. Of course, he is just a child during this part of the book. Jonas has grown up with the precision of language, and a family that is not biologically related. He has accepted this way of life because he does not know any other lifestyle or way of living. Throughout the book, Jonas’ viewpoints, personality, appearance, and how others see him change drastically. After he was chosen to be ‘The Receiver,’ his road to adulthood started.
Specifically, in his training, when his mentor tells him that he may lie. “His mind reeled. Now, empowered to ask questions of utmost rudeness-and promised answers-he could, conceivably (though it was almost unimaginable), ask someone, some adult, his father perhaps: ‘Do you lie?’ But he would have no way of knowing if the answer he received was true.” (page 71) This shows that the new rules that Jonas is given are incredibly out of order to what he believed in. He also starts doubting the people around him and eventually coming to a point where he is miserable that no one in Sameness community loves each other or has a real loving relationship with another.

“Do you love me?”

There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle. “Jonas. You, of all people. Precision of language, please!”

“Do you understand why it’s inappropriate to use a word like ‘love’?” Mother asked.

Jonas nodded. “Yes, thank you, I do,” he replied slowly.

It was his first lie to his parents.” (page 127)

Jonas’ appearance should also change as he gets older and older through the book, growing from a little 12-year-old to a full grown teenager. He has Blue-Grey eyes, as opposed to the brown eyes that the rest of the community has, indicating his uniqueness and his importance in The Giver. Otherwise, his short brown hair and structured face remain the same throughout the story, showing that he is not a total outsider. Other than his appearance, the people around him change too. Because of him becoming more and more introverting and miserable, Jonas loses his friends, all he has is The Giver. This, of course, makes everyone see him as weird and an outsider, pushing him further and further away. “He felt such love for Asher and for Fiona. But they could not feel it back, without the memories.” (page 135)

Because The Giver is a dystopian book about a perfect world, many novels could be compared to The Giver. Anthem is a great book to compare to The Giver though. This is because both societies were engineered to be “perfect.” In Anthem, they were basically robots. Both in The Giver and in Anthem the main characters become more aware of how everyone is the “same,” because of how scientists and the government teamed up and designed a way to keep everyone and the earth safe both these characters seek a way “out” of their society. Prometheus believes in individualism and rejects the community around him. He is self-centered and vain, durable, and intelligent. He is curious and desires the freedom to explore and think, and he is not afraid of the “society” of mindless drones around him. You can primarily relate this to Jonas as he is all of these things. At the end of the book, the only thing that Jonas can think of is that he has to get out of the community, not only for himself but to help the people by returning their memories to them. This just shows how selfless Jonas becomes from being an ignorant child to a self-aware man.

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