Structure and content

The novel The Giver by Lois Lowry contains 23 chapters of varying length, which have no headings. The first words of each section are capitalized. The story begins in medias res, that is, in the middle of the events: "It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened. No. Wrong word, Jonas thought" (Chapter 1, 0%).

The story can be divided into three parts, separated by a surprising turning point and an unexpected climax. After the exposition, which introduces Jonas as a model citizen of the small community in which he lives, his surprising selection as the new "Receiver of Memory" forms an important turning point. From now on, he is no longer like the other members and follows his own special training rules.

The second part of the narrative is devoted to the following year, during which Jonas is trained until one day he finds out the true meaning of the term "release". During this period, the perception of his surroundings and relatives slowly changes. He simultaneously establishes, on the one hand, a friendly relationship with his mentor, the old Receiver of Memory, and, on the other, a deep emotional bond with the child Gabriel, whom he considers his protégé.

The story reaches its climax when Jonas learns that the reason people in society lie is because they blindly follow society's rules. Jonas' fundamental trust in his parents and in the supposedly perfectly regulated world is thus deeply shaken. The last part of the novel describes Jonas and Gabriel's dangerous escape.

Introduction (Chapters 1-5)

Introduction of the main character Jonas and first insights into the community and its rules, rituals and ceremonies. We also get to know Jonas' family, his friend Asher, his female friend Fiona, as well as the baby Gabriel, who is staying with Jonas' family at night.

Turning point: December Ceremony and election as Receiver of Memory (Chapters 6-9)

The first surprising turning point is the Ceremony of Twelve, during which Jonas' friends receive their professions and Jonas is assigned his task as the Receiver of Memory. As Jonas feared, from this point on his life and his relationship to his surroundings change in a fundamental way and he feels isolated and estranged from them.

The special rules Jonas receives as the new Receiver of Memory and for his training give Jonas a new insight. He learns, for example, that he is allowed to lie. Until now, he lived in the belief that everyone in the community always told the truth. But now he has to deal with the possibility that other members of other professions are also allowed to lie. For the first time, he fears that his parents might be lying to him.

The training as the Receiver of Memory (Chapters 10-17)

Jonas's training as a Receiver of Memory begins. The readers get to know the old Giver and learn about his function: the community has no memories of the past. Only the isolated Receiver carries these memories and acts as advisor for the Committee of Elders.

The Giver transmits the first memory to Jonas. It is the memory of a sled and a sled ride down a mountain. His education progresses. He learns to recognize colors and experiences physical and mental pain. Heavy and terrible memories of death and war are transmitted to him. 

Jonas also discovers that he can pass on his memories to Gabriel. Finally, however, Jonas also receives the memory of a family celebration and learns what love and warmth are and can do. Afterwards, he rebelliously decides to stop taking his daily pill that dampens and suppresses his sexual urges, passion, and feelings.

Jonas realizes that he is becoming estranged and distant from his friends and family. Therefore, the people around him cannot understand him because they have no memories and f...

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