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The Giver Summary

The Giver Summary

The Giver Summary

The Giver by Lois Lowry


The giver is set in a dystopian, futuristic world where war, pain, and emotions are foreign concepts.

Main Characters

Jonas- is the protagonist in the novel who is sensitive and intelligent. Jonas has strange powers of perception that he does not understand.

The giver- he is an old man known in the community as the receiver of memory.

Jonas’s father- is a mild-mannered nurturer who works with infants.

Jonas’s mother- she is a practical and pleasant woman with an important position at the department of justice.

Lily- she is Jonas’s sister, seven years old.

Gabriel- he is the new child that Jonas’s family cares for at night.

Asher- he is Jonas’s best friend who is fun-loving and speaks too fast.

Fiona- she is Jonas’s friend with red hair and works as a caretaker in the house of the old.

Larissa- she is a woman living in the house of the old.

The chief elder- she is the elected leader of Jonas’s community.

Plot Summary

The giver is written from the point of view of an eleven-year-old boy known as Jonas, living in a futuristic society that has eliminated all pain, fear, war, and hatred. Jonas lives with his father, a Nurturer of new children, his mother, who works at the Department of Justice, and his seven-year-old sister Lily. Jonas is different; he has pale eyes, while most people in his community have dark eyes and he has unusual powers of perception. After dinner, Jonas and his family tell each other about their feelings. Jonas shares that he is apprehensive about the Ceremony of Twelve because he is unsure what his assignment will be.

Jonas’s father is worried about a new child, Gabriel, who is not developing as quickly as the other children. He brings Gabriel home after convincing the other Nurturers that Gabriel might catch up if he is raised in the environment of a family unit. For his last few hours as a volunteer, Jonas looks for his best friend, Asher, and finds Asher’s bike at the House of the Old, along with the bike of their groupmate Fiona. Jonas bathes Larissa, who tells him about the Ceremony of Release for Roberto that morning and how happy Roberto looked when he entered the Releasing Room.

The day of the ceremony comes and the students sit in their birth order for that year; fifty children are born each year through birthmothers, which is a job in their society. Jonas is number nineteen, but when his turn comes, the elders skip him. The chief elder comes forward at the end and apologizes to the community for making them feel uncomfortable, and they accept her apology. She explains that Jonas will not be assigned a typical job and instead, he has been selected as the new Receiver of Memory. Jonas goes home with a list of rules for this new position, of which he was completely unaware. Some of the more shocking rules say that he cannot discuss his training, he cannot ask for medicine or be released, and he is allowed to lie.

The Giver transmits memories by placing his hands on Jonas’s bareback. The first memory he receives is of an exhilarating sled ride. As Jonas receives memories from the Giver, he realizes how empty life in his community really is. The memories make Jonas’s life richer and more meaningful, and he wishes that he could give that richness and meaning to the people he loves. Since the people in Jonas’s community have never experienced real suffering, they cannot appreciate the real joy of life, and the life of individual people seems less precious to them. Jonas grows more and more frustrated with the members of his community, and the Giver, who has felt the same way for many years, encourages him. The two grow very close, like a grandfather and a grandchild might have.

Meanwhile, Jonas helps his family take care of Gabriel, who has trouble sleeping through the night at the Nurturing Center. When Gabriel is in danger of being released, the Giver reveals to Jonas that release is the same as death. Jonas is raged and in horror which inspires the Giver to help Jonas come up with a plan to change things in the community forever. The Giver and Jonas plan for Jonas to escape the community and to actually enter Elsewhere. Once he has done that, his larger supply of memories will disperse, and the Giver will help the community to come to terms with the new feelings and thoughts, changing the society forever.

However, Jonas is forced to leave earlier than planned after his father tells him that Gabriel will be released the next day. Desperate to save Gabriel, Jonas steals his father’s bicycle and a supply of food and leaves for somewhere else. Heavy snow makes bike travel impossible and Jonas comforts Gabriel with memories of sunshine and friendship, Jonas mounts a high hill. There he finds a sled waiting for him at the top. Jonas and Gabriel experience a glorious downhill ride on the sled. They see the twinkling lights of a friendly village at Christmas, and they hear music Ahead of them. Jonas is sure that someone is waiting for them there.


  1. Rituals. Within the novel, rituals tend to envelop the moments in which community members can express limited emotions, such as dreams, aging, and death. These rituals almost always work to expel the emotions involved.
  2. The Individual vs. Society. Jonas’s community is founded on the idea of everyone being the same. In order to achieve this Sameness, individualism is discouraged, and rules and discipline matter most.
  3. Freedom and Choice. In Jonas’s community, no one makes choices. All choices about the community were made in the distant past when Sameness was created, and any additional changes involve painfully slow bureaucratic processes.
  4. Feeling and Emotion. In Jonas’s community, people do not understand genuine emotion or pain, because their lifestyles do not give them an opportunity to experience it. Birthmothers are not allowed to raise their own children and Adults are not allowed to choose their own spouses. Sex is forbidden and sexual urges medicated away.

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