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Free Study Guide-The Giver by Lois Lowry-Free Book Notes Summary Online
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THEMES ANALYSIS

The Importance of Memory

This story developed from the authorís understanding of the importance of memory, an understanding which came from her observation of someone who no longer had their memory. When one has no memory they cannot remember painful episodes in their life. Some people with memories of horrors, losing those memories can seem to be a blessing. But, if they also cannot recall the emotions associated with their good relationships with others, it is a mixed blessing. The author appears to believe that having all memories, good and bad, is better than having no memories. This book presents a convincing argument for the importance of memory.

Memory is important for preventing repetition of mistakes. That is where the Receivers give their community valuable help. Without the Receivers, the community would have wanted to increase the population. But, because the Giver/Receiver had memories of famine and hunger, they avoided suffering through famine and hunger again.

Jonas learns to love through memories. Those in the community who do not have memories are unable to experience love. This has enormous importance.

The Importance of the Individual

What Jonas accomplishes shows what an individual can do. He manages to not only change his life and the lives of Gabriel and the Giver, but also the lives of everyone in the community by making it possible for the memories to go to the community. Before the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas was one of a group of Elevens who were all living according to the rules of the community.


After the Ceremony of Twelve, when he became the new Receiver, and after he began receiving the memories, he developed into an individual with a life separate from that of the community. At that point, he was able to make a difference in the life of everyone in the community. Soon, now that they are receiving memories, they will also be able to act as individuals and make even more changes for the improvement of the community.

The Value of Freedom to Make Choices

Sometimes we make the wrong choice, but, even so, the freedom to make choices outweighs any good that would come from losing our ability to make choices. Jonas, who has gone through his entire childhood without making a choice, begins to make choices after he starts receiving memories from the Giver. He learns what he has been missing. He knows that the freedom to make choices is the key to getting the most out of life. The choice that he makes to leave the community helps the community as well as himself, Gabriel and the Giver. Jonasís choice to leave the community seems to have extra value because it will enable the community itself to begin making choices.

The Relationship between Pain and Pleasure

A memory of pain gives meaning to pleasure. In the community, life is monotonous because pleasurable things do not have the value that a memory of pain would give them. Pain is not felt as fully as it would be if the person experiencing it had knowledge of pleasure. In the community, due to lack of memories of pain and pleasure, feelings are muted. As Jonas receives the memories, he is better able to experience pain and pleasure. This gives his life added richness. He wants to share this richness with his community, especially with his friends and family.

The Value of a Multi-generational Family

The family in which Jonas grew up was only a temporary grouping of parents and children. When Jonas and then Lily grow up, it is expected that Father and Mother will live with the Childless Adults until they go to the House of the Old. Jonas and Lily will no longer be in contact with them. As Jonas receives memories, he is exposed to memories of households that include grandparents, households filled with love shared by three generations. He is very impressed by the love that he finds in such households. He desires to live like that.

The Importance of Making Connections

Memories are important. Sharing them is also important. Connecting with people with whom we can share memories enriches our lives. The feeling of being connected to the past that comes from memories of the past is also enriching. Having connections makes pleasurable memories more pleasurable and painful memories less painful. As Jonas gains memories, he has an increasing need to connect with his family and friends, a need that they cannot meet because they have no memories. He proceeds to solve the problem in a way. Because of Jonasís departure from the community and his journey toward Elsewhere, the community recaptures the memories. We can assume that soon, with the help and support of the Giver, they will be able to love and make connections. However, Jonas is not planning to return to the community.

The Value of Diversity

The community in which Jonas lives has, many generations before Jonas, moved to what they call Sameness. Those who set up the new way believed that Sameness solved many problems. By getting rid of diversity, life is simpler, but it also lacks the richness that diversity gives. Without diversity it was easier to gain control of what was left. As Jonas receives memories, he learns that it was a bad trade-off.

The Importance of Honesty

We learn, with Jonas, the importance of honesty. When Jonas finds out that he can lie, he realizes that other Twelves may have also been given that permission. He can no longer feel sure about anything that is or has been told to him. Anything he has been told is now open to question. The situation worsens when Jonas discovers that his father lied to him about releasing a newchild. Jonas does accept the Giverís statement that, although he has permission, he does not lie to him.

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