The Giver

by: Lois Lowry

Protagonist

Main ideas Protagonist

Jonas is the protagonist of The Giver. The novel follows Jonas’s discovery of the limitations of life within the community and his ultimate rejection of Sameness. He begins the novel working hard to embody community standards by taking pride in his precise language, meticulously following the rules, and participating in every required ritual, even the dream-telling ritual that requires him to share the details of his first erotic dream. However, as The Giver hands down memories of the world as it once operated, Jonas rejects his community’s dictates and demands action against them. Jonas inspires The Giver with his quick conviction that the community should not have relinquished color, and The Giver is impressed by how quickly Jonas arrives at this conclusion. Jonas acts on his newfound emotions by challenging his friends’ perceptions of the world. He tests Asher to see if he can view color and critiques the “good guys versus bad guys” game, which Jonas recognizes as a game of war after The Giver gives Jonas a particularly horrific memory of warfare.

Unfortunately, Jonas cannot convince his groupmates or family to look beyond Sameness since they lack the wisdom that The Giver’s memories offer. Jonas’s anger and conviction spur The Giver to devise a plan to end Sameness, even though The Giver once assumed this dream was impossible.  At the end of the novel, Jonas changes the plan at the last minute in order to save Gabriel from release, taking ownership of his newfound values of love and choice. As Jonas escapes with Gabriel, he comes face-to-face with the elements of the world his community once protected him from: pain, exhaustion, cold, hunger. These are the consequences he must face for making a choice as an individual rather than as a member of society. In the end, Jonas decides that this freedom of choice is worth the difficulties, and he would rather suffer from freedom than suffer from Sameness.