Jonas smiled back at his sister. Lily’s feelings were always straightforward, fairly simple, usually easy to resolve. He guessed that his own had been, too, when he was a Seven.
Jonas sees in his sister Lily a simplicity forever lost to him. If Asher is an example of a child molded by the community, Lily represents childhood in a purer form, not yet fully shaped by her society. While this lost childhood is undoubtedly appealing, Jonas’s innate insight, sharpened under the Giver’s tutelage, cuts off any possibility of grasping Lily’s innocence or Asher’s total assimilation.
“Maybe we could even keep him,” Lily suggested sweetly, trying to look innocent. The look was fake, Jonas knew; they all knew.
Here, Lily tries to sneakily get what she wants, but she hasn’t yet mastered the others’ careful tact and reserve. Despite her attempts to be subtle, her thoughts and impulses spill out. Her family accepts this for now because she is young and harmless, but we know that firmer self-control and obedience will soon be drilled into her.
Lily grinned. “I have a
betteridea for one more story,” she announced. “What if actually we were alltwins and didn’t know it, and so Elsewhere there would be another Lily, and another Jonas, and another Father, and another Asher, and another Chief Elder, and another—” Father groaned. “Lily,” he said. “It’s bedtime.”
Lily is asking an endless stream of questions reminiscent of Jonas’s thoughts after he learns he can lie. Jonas, however, has the wisdom of age to stop him from saying his thoughts aloud. Lily, having no sense of the danger of information in her society, speculates about things the community would rather no one thought about, and Father instinctively shuts her down.
With all of his being he tried to give each of them a piece of the memory: not of the tortured cry of the elephant, but of the
beingof the elephant, of the towering, immense creature and the meticulous touch with which it had tended its friend at the end. But his father had continued to comb Lily’s long hair, and Lily, impatient, had finally wiggled under her brother’s touch. “Jonas,” she said, “you’re hurtingme with your hand.” “I apologize for hurting you, Lily,” Jonas mumbled, and took his hand away. “ ’Cept your apology,” Lily responded indifferently, stroking the lifeless elephant.
Jonas tried desperately to impart emotion to his loved ones, however, based on her reaction, we see that the community’s emotionlessness is already taking hold within Lily. She is unable to receive any of the memories Jonas offers, and even her brief sensation of pain immediately fades to indifference. She may be an innocent child, but she is well on her way to joining the mindless masses.
“[W]e obviously had to make the decision. Even
Ivoted for Gabriel’s release when we had the meeting this afternoon.” Jonas put down his fork and stared at his father. “Release?” he asked. Father nodded. “We certainly gave it our best try, didn’t we?” “Yes, we did,” Mother agreed emphatically. Lily nodded in agreement, too.
As Jonas hears Father’s shocking news that the infant Gabriel will be put to death, we see how easily the community’s insidious values are passed down through generations. Lily has no idea what most of this means, but nods along because she sees the adults doing it. This instinct to imitate is a self-sustaining form of indoctrination that continually shapes the town’s children into sameness.