Jonas’s father is one of the only characters in the novel, besides the Giver and Jonas, who seems to grapple with difficult decisions and complex emotions. Although Jonas’s father does not have access to the memories that give Jonas and the Giver insight into human relationships and feelings, he displays many of the characteristics that were valued in pre-Sameness societies. As a Nurturer, he feels a strong connection with the babies he cares for and a deep concern for their welfare. Although he agrees with Jonas’s mother that “love” is a meaningless, obscure word, the feelings he displays toward the newchildren and his family seem very much like love: he delights in taking care of them and playing with them, he worries about them, and he makes minor and major sacrifices for their benefit, from indulging his daughter’s fondness for her comfort object to bringing baby Gabriel home to his family every night in the hopes of saving him from being released. His concern for the newchildren might be concern about his own personal failure as a Nurturer, but he obviously feels pain and regret when children are released. He also has an independent streak that is unusual in the community, demonstrated when he breaks a rule and peeks at Gabriel’s name in the hopes that it will help the child.
In the end, however, Jonas’s father is a product of his society. Under other circumstances, he probably would have loved the newchildren passionately and fought against all odds for their survival. But having grown up in a society where release, though an occasion for sadness, is not considered tragedy, Jonas’s father cannot access the deeper feelings that might be available to him. He regrets the release of newchildren, but he performs releases himself: not knowing the value of life as Jonas does, he cannot appreciate its loss, and never having felt intense pain, he cannot summon it for the death of a baby.