Chapters 1 & 2

Jonas, the eleven-year-old protagonist of the novel, explains his apprehensiveness regarding the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve, the time in his society when he will be assigned a career and begin life as an adult. Jonas’s parents reassure him that the Committee of Elders will choose a career that suits him.

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Chapters 3 & 4

Jonas’s father, a Nurturer who takes care of children, brings a struggling baby named Gabriel home. Jonas thinks about the Speakers who make announcements to the community over the loudspeakers all day, and he remembers a time when an announcement was specifically directed at him after he took an apple home to investigate it. One day, Jonas meets his friend Asher at the House of the Old so they can do their volunteer hours together, and Asher speaks with an old woman named Larissa who describes the release of one of the Old. Though she does not know what actually happens when someone is released, she assumes it is wonderful even if she does not understand why children are forbidden to attend.

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Chapters 5 & 6

In Jonas’s society, families discuss their dreams together. In the morning, Jonas tells about a dream he had and the feeling of desire that the dream elicited. Jonas’s mother identifies the dream as his first Stirring and gives Jonas a pill to quell the feelings of arousal. On the first morning of the Ceremony, Jonas, his mother, and his sister Lily discuss the milestones that children achieve each year, and later, Jonas trusts that the Committee will give him an appropriate Assignment.

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Chapters 7–9

During the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas watches and listens as his classmates receive their Assignments, his friend Asher being assigned the position of Assistant Director of Recreation. When Jonas’s turn comes, the Chief Elder skips over him, which concerns the audience and Jonas. After the ceremony, however, the Chief Elder explains that Jonas has been selected to the special position of Receiver of Memory, a role that requires one to possess intelligence, integrity, and courage, as well as the ability to acquire wisdom. Before bed that night, Jonas looks over the single sheet of paper in his Assignment folder and learns of the exemptions and responsibilities he will have as the Receiver, which disturbs him.

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Chapters 10 & 11

On Jonas’s first day of training, he meets with the old Receiver who tells Jonas that he will transmit all of the memories of the entire world to Jonas. To help Jonas understand, he transmits the memory of snow to Jonas, the memory of sunshine, and the experience of a sunburn to help Jonas get used to the idea of pain. When Jonas leaves, he asks the Receiver what he should call him now that he is the new Receiver, and the Receiver says to call him the Giver.

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Chapters 12 & 13

After Jonas notices Fiona’s hair change, the Giver tells Jonas that he is beginning to see the color red, explaining that at one time everything in the world had color as well as shape and size. Jonas remarks that red is beautiful and wonders why his community got rid of it, and the Giver tells him that to gain control of certain things, the society had to let go of others. Jonas attempts to impart what he has learned to Asher and Lily but is not successful, and after growing more curious about his training, Jonas asks the Giver what life is like for a Receiver. The Giver tells Jonas that being the Receiver makes family life difficult, and that his whole life will be nothing more than the memories he possesses. The Giver also tells Jonas of the Receiver who was selected ten years before, and noticing that the Giver’s memories give him pain, Jonas wonders what causes it.

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Chapters 14–16

Over the next days, the Giver transmits more and more painful memories to Jonas, always ending the day with a memory of pleasure, and after experiencing starvation, the Giver explains that horrible memories need to be preserved in order for them to provide wisdom to the community. Meanwhile, the baby Gabriel is developing but still cannot sleep well, so one night Jonas pats his back while remembering a wonderful sail on a lake, unknowingly transmitting the memory to Gabriel, which lulls him to sleep. After receiving the Giver’s favorite memory, Jonas asks his family if they love him, but they are unable to express that specific sentiment.

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Chapters 17 & 18

After Jonas stops taking his pills, his Stirrings return. An unscheduled holiday is declared in the community, and when Jonas explains that the game his friends are playing is actually a war game, Jonas realizes that his friends cannot understand his feelings or even return the strong love that he feels for them. The next day, the Giver tells Jonas about Rosemary, the failed Receiver, who after receiving memories of loneliness, loss, poverty, and fear, left the community never to be seen again. Jonas asks the Giver what would happen if he accidentally drowned in the river, carrying a year’s worth of memories with him, and the Giver says it would be a disaster, as the community would be forced to deal with all the memories. The Giver wonders if it might help the community to deal with the memories in the same way that he helps Jonas.

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Chapters 19 & 20

After Jonas watches a video of his father killing a baby and learning that Rosemary’s release meant her death, he is overcome by pain and horror. Upset by the realization of what release really is, Jonas decides to spend the night with the Giver and the two devise a plan in which Jonas will escape from the community, leaving all his memories for the people of the community. For the next two weeks, the Giver plans to transmit memories of courage and strength to help Jonas with his journey to Elsewhere.

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Chapters 21–23

After learning that Gabriel is set to be released, Jonas runs away with the baby while transmitting memories to calm Gabriel as they hide from the search planes flying overhead. After several days, the landscape begins to change and the terrain becomes bumpy, adding extra stress to the already difficult journey. Jonas suspects that Elsewhere is not far away. One day as it begins to snow, Jonas expends the last of his memories of warmth to help him and Gabriel survive, but when he can no longer remember sunshine and is on the precipice of death, Jonas remembers his friends and family and the Giver, and memories of them give him the strength he needs to persevere. Eventually, they arrive at the top of a hill where he finds a sled that leads him toward a house with twinkling lights that Jonas feels certain is filled with a loving family, and finally, Jonas hears singing and music for the first time in his life.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 21–23