“You know nothing, Jon Snow”
Jon Snow might not know anything, but Jonas finds out everything in Chapters Nineteen and Twenty, and it breaks our hearts.
Jonas’ community is a lie. Even the Giver says of the community members, “They know nothing.” Jonas watches a video screen that shows his father “releasing” a twin baby – of course it’s anathema to this community that you would raise twins to adulthood. After all, how confusing would it be to have two people who look identically alike?
As horrified watching the release video as we are reading these chapters, Jonas watches his father insert a needle into the baby’s head and inject a fluid that kills the baby. That’s release. Release = Murder. And only the Giver and Jonas understand the concept of murder because the community members don’t have any memories of what murder is. Jonas’ father certainly doesn’t understand the concept. He’s just doing his job.
Rosemary, the previous Receiver-in-Training who asked for release? She knew full well what she was asking for. Not only did she request release, but she injected herself with the killing fluid, essentially committing suicide. Have we mentioned yet that in these chapters we learn, as does Jonas, that Rosemary was the Giver’s daughter? We can’t even fathom what the Giver went through.
Lowry’s novel is beyond disturbing. Maybe that’s why it’s such an excellent novel. It makes us think about just how dystopian – and that’s our putting it mildly – a community can be if its members give up personal choices, if they blindly become followers, if they don’t want to feel. Scary.
Fingers double-crossed that the plan the Giver and Jonas hatch for Jonas to forever escape the community, thereby releasing all his memories back into the community, succeeds. No one should live like this.