The Giver sighed. “You’re right,” he said. “But then everyone would be burdened and pained. They don’t want that. And that’s the real reason The Receiver is so vital to them, and so honored. They selected me – and you – to lift that burden from themselves.”
― Lois Lowry, The Giver
The Giver is an Elder of the community and quite mysterious in the beginning. He shares little of his own past, just stating that he once had a designated wife and child. As he gives more and more memories to Jonas, we see that he can be very kind and wise.
Burdened by the memories of good and bad, he uses these memories to advise the Elders on important issues that the Elders may have no knowledge of. His decisions sometimes lead to bad consequences when performed by the community and he feels responsible for bringing back their true humanity.
Though the Giver is described as an old man with the same bright eyes as Jonas, he hints that he is not quite as old as he is believed to be. This suggests that by being the Receiver of Memory, it has aged him many years.
Does the character do things that cause good consequences or bad consequences?
The Giver desires for his people to connect with their emotions and remember the past. By doing so, he plans for Jonas to leave, which is very dangerous. His plans would also drive their community into chaos at first, initially causing bad consequences.
Do they do perform acts for personal gain or to help others?
Looking deeper into The Giver, we see that his actions are to help others. In some ways, however, by making the decision to give people back the past, he is relieving himself of the pain of remembering and making people similar to him. He also plans to be their guide and helper with these new emotions, essentially making him their leader.
Are their personality traits noble and with good intent?
The Giver is burdened by pain and suffering of the past. Throughout the book, Jonas is dismissed from his teachings when The Giver is too overwhelmed. He is therefore a solemn character that eventually grows to love Jonas as a son and shows kindness to him.
Is the character dishonest?
The irony of this question is that ‘the receiver of memory’ has a rule that he is able to lie. By this, The Giver lies to many people in the community but expresses that he has not once lied to Jonas.
Does the character only consider their own interests?
The Giver considers the interests of Jonas and his daughter Rosemary. He wished to spare the pain of both apprentices he had.
Does the character fight for the opposing side?
Essentially yes. The Giver ‘fights’ against the ways of the community and plots to effect them all with his plot, therefore going against the wishes of ‘the Elders’.
Did the character feel guilty about his poor actions?
The Giver feels guilt for bringing pain to both Jonas and his daughter, and also feels responsible for her death. He tries to redeem himself by planning to bring emotion back to the community.
Does the character kill without thought or reason?
No, The Giver is the only one who really understands death at all and he feels incredibly responsible to stop the bad things happening in the community.
The Giver is a complicated character. In the beginning you are weary of him and later become very sympathetic towards his situation. He technically a good character with good intentions but he is also a leader of the community, one that is quoted to be the most honored, and did nothing most of his life to stop the ‘releases’ from happening. It is when his daughter is released that he changes his decision and decides to do something about it. He eventually wishes to join Rosemary in the afterlife.
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The Giver: Friend or Foe?