Analysis

Our in-depth analysis of Lois Lowrys's young adult novel The Giver (1993) discusses the various building blocks of the narrative. First, we will focus on the title. Then, we will explain the structure, the content, and the specific direct continuation from one chapter to another. Afterwards, we discuss the open ending .

We examine physical and time setting, then we will focus on language and narrative techniques. We will also look at narrator and point of view.  

The last section of our detailed analysis deals with the most significant motifs of the exciting story. The December Ceremonies play an essential role in the lives of children until they reach the age of about 12. Another central motif is the ability to "see beyond". This gift is closely connected with the perception of colors. Finally, the memory of sledding, which also appears in Jonas' dreams, and the theme of "music" are described.

Our detailed analysis of the most important aspects of The Giver provides a wonderful basis for interpreting the work. It is written in easy-to-understand language, stays close to the text, and is supported with appropriate and illustrative textual examples.

Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

Colors play a special role in the story. When Jonas starts his training with the Giver, we learn that there are no colors in the community and that people cannot see colors The Giver and Jonas are the only ones who have this ability.

The motif of color is connected with the motif of seeing beyond. The first color Jonas perceives is red. Thus, red also becomes a guiding color in the novel: the change in the apple, which is red (Chapter 3, 71%), Fiona's red hair (Chapter 12, 40%), and finally the red sled from the first memory and the sled in which Jonas and Gabriel ride down the mountain at the end : 

This time it was not a fleeting impression. This time the sled had—and continued to have, as he blinked, and stared at it again—that same mysterious quality that the apple had had so briefly. And Fiona’s hair. The sled did not change. It simply was—whatever the thing was (Chapter 12, 70%). 

After Jonas experiences the memory, The Giver tells him, " 'You’re beginning to see the color red' " (Chapter 12, 71%).

After Jonas learns that colors exist, he learns to see more and more colors, at first only for brief moments: 

Jonas learned, through the memories, the names of colors; and now he began to see them all, in his ordinary life (...). But they didn’t last. There would be a glimpse of green—the landscaped lawn around the Central Plaza; a bush on the riverbank. The bright orange of pumpkins being trucked in from the agricultural fields beyond the community boundary—seen in an instant, the flash of brilliant color, but gone again, returning to their flat and hueless shade(...) (Chapter 13, 0%).

In the memories that the Giver transmits to him, however, Jonas can experience the colors in their full intensity: "Each time, in his kindness, The Giver ended the afternoon with a color-filled memory of pleasure: a brisk sail on a blue-green lake; a meadow dotted with yellow wildflowers; an orange sunset behind mountains." (Chapter 14, 27%).

Jonas also shares this perception of colors with Gabriel: 

Still patting rhythmically, Jonas began to remember the wonderful sail that The Giver had given him not long before: a bright, breezy day on a clear turquoise lake, and above him the white sail of the boat billowing as he moved along in the brisk wind. (Chapter 14, 91%)

Colors, however, are not associated only with beautiful things, but also appear in the horrible memories of war and death: 

Dirt streaked the boy’s face and his matted blond hair. He lay sprawled, his gray uniform glistening with wet, fresh blood. The colors of the carnage were grotesquely bright: the crimson wetness on the rough and dusty fabric, the ripped shreds of grass, startlingly green, in the boy’s yellow hair. (Chapter 15, 50%)

After several weeks of training with the Giver, Jonas is finally able to see colors permanently in his normal life as well: 

Now he could see all of the colors; and he could keep them, too, so that the trees and grass and bushes stayed green in his vision. Gabriel’s rosy cheeks stayed pink, even when he slept. And apples were always, always red. (Chapter 17, 11%).

Jonas' ability to see colors shows that his knowledge is increasing and his ability to "see beyond" is growing stronger. He is able to recognize and appreciate the differences in the world. Finally, at the end of the narrative, he rides with Gabriel on the sled into a colorful world.

Sledding

Sledding is a significant motif in the novel. The first memory Jonas experiences is of snow, sleds, and sledding : "Sled, he knew abruptly. He was sitting on a thing called sled."(Chapter 11, 25%). The word sled is written here in italics, as are other important words in the text. 

Sledding is a great experience for Jonas: "Comprehending all of those things as he sped downward, he was free to enjoy the breathless glee that overwhelmed him: the speed, the clear cold air, the total silence, the feeling of balance and excitement and peace" (Chapter 11, 38%).

As a result, Jonas frequently dreams of sledding . "Again and again, as he slept, he had slid down that snow-covered hill." (Chapter 12, 10%), and he associates this vision with a goal he must achieve. 

Later, he is able to evoke the memory of the sled when the Giver teaches him what color is (Chapter 12, 70%). He recognizes that the sled is red: "This time the sled had—and continued to have, as he blinked, and stared at it again—that same mysterious quality that the apple had had so briefly" (Chapter 12, 70%). Red is the first color he can perceive.

The Giver later reawakens this memory in him: "'I’ve decided. We’ll start with something familiar. Let’s go once again to a hill, and a sled.' He placed his hands on Jonas’s back." (Chapter 13, 100%). The experience makes Jonas happy again: "The sled moved forward, and Jonas grinned with delight, looking forward to the breathtaking slide down through the invigorating air." (Chapter 14, 0%).

Through sledding, however, Jonas also learns what pain is when he breaks his leg in his vision: 

Sideways, spinning, the sled hit a bump in the hill and Jonas was jarred loose and thrown violently into the air. He fell with his leg twisted under him, and could hear the crack of bone. [...] Then, the first wave of pain. He gasped. It was as if a hatchet lay lodged in his leg, slicing through each nerve with a hot blade. (Chapter 14, 9%).

Sledding thus stands for excitement and freedom on the one hand, but also for the fact that the path to freedom holds pain and danger. It gives Jonas the feeling that there is a world outside his community that awaits him. The motif of sledding returns at the end of the novel and is linked to breaking free from the community and Jonas's goal.

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