All’s Fair in Love and War
We certainly wouldn’t want to go to work every day if all we experienced is pain. Talk about pain-in-the-job… Jonas doesn’t want to either, but he does; he has no choice. Never forget, he’s a Twelve. He’s twelve years old and has the weight of his community on his shoulders!
At least the Giver understands what Jonas is going through. He makes sure to give only good memories to Jonas for a while, like in Chapter Sixteen, when he gives his most joyful memory to Jonas about a room full of people, including children, parents, and old people – can anyone say “Grandparents,” please?
Seriously, how hard is it to say – and know – what Family is? Christmas? Not in Jonas’ community. Love? Forget it; the community doesn’t even know what that concept means. All of these things and feelings are in the Giver’s memory that he gives to Jonas. That makes us smile…until we realize along with Jonas that there is no love, no true feelings, in the community. Jonas sure wishes he could figure out how to change the community so that they could experience memories. He does share memories with Gabe, the child staying with his family…which is against the rules.
What might even be worse than the lack of love and reality in this community is the absoluteness of Jonas’s job as the new Receiver of Memory. It’s against the rules to back out. In Chapter Eighteen, when Jonas asks the Giver about release and why a Receiver isn’t allowed to ask for it, the Giver explains that Rosemary, the previous Receiver-in-Training ten years earlier, asked for release five weeks into her training. What happened to all of the memories that she had been given up to when she was released, you ask? The community members experienced them and freaked out. They couldn’t handle the feelings contained in them.
What if something was to happen to Jonas and his memories were released into the community. Hmmm…