The Giver

  • Study Guide

Chapters 1–2

Summary Chapters 1–2

However, the discordant notes remain, highlighted by Jonas’s description of himself as “frightened” at the beginning of the book. Even though he immediately rejects the word as inaccurate, its appearance in the first sentence of the novel colors the mood of the first several pages. Since Jonas seems so comfortable with the more unusual aspects of his society, we begin to think of them as normal, but at the same time his fear at the beginning of the story makes us slightly wary of totally accepting them. We are more likely now to notice that the society’s rules, though they are meant to help its citizens, limit personal freedom. We are also more likely to pick up on the ominous meaning of release—the punishment given to the pilot who accidentally flew over the community. Why would an accident be given the most serious punishment in the community? What does release actually mean? The word usually has a positive meaning, but in this context it is negative. In the tension between the two meanings, Lowry hints that everything in the society might not be exactly how it seems.

By the end of Chapter 1, though Jonas has decided he is not frightened, he has decided that he is apprehensive. Having accepted that Jonas likes living in his community with his family, we have grown less frightened and more apprehensive with him. However, we have the feeling that, just like Jonas, the entire novel is on the brink of an important change. Jonas’s apprehension is a kind of foreshadowing that gets us ready for the idea that the whole society he lives in might be reaching an important milestone very soon, just as Jonas awaits the important milestone of the Ceremony of Twelve.