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Understanding Emotions and Feelings in The Giver by Lois Lowry

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Imagine living in a community where everything you do is watched through the cameras of your house, school, cafeteria and everything you say is being recorded. Imagine living a life where you can’t feel any emotions, feelings, have no decisions to make any choices, have no memories of the past or can’t see any colour beside black and white. The Giver by Lois Lowry revolves around a character named Jonas who is an eleven year old boy who lives in a very controlled community that has eliminated all pain, fear, war, hatred and as well as emotions. The couples are chosen and if they want to have kids they must apply for them. Everyone is assigned a role in this community by the Elders and at the age of twelve, all of the children including Jonas must attend “The Ceremony of Twelves”. At that ceremony the Elders assign very twelve year olds of the community a job based on his or her abilities and interests. Jonas got selected as the receiver of memories and is told that the job requires physical pain. Jonas is trained under a very old man named The Giver who holds the memories of the community. He also transfers the memories to Jonas about colours because Jonas can’t see colours, he also gives memories of pain, happiness, sadness, betrayal and etc. If The Giver gives the memories to Jonas he no longer has a hold of them. Jonas is forbidden to tell anyone his training including his family members. Throughout the book the world release is used a lot and the world means to kill someone by injecting them with a special type of liquid into their body. Once Jonas found out the meaning of release by watching his dad kill a baby without his dad knowing he killed it he got so hurt and made a plan with The Giver to release the memories of pain, happiness and being able to see colours to the people of the community because they have a right to know their emotions and freedom. Therefore this essay will examine the importance of memory, bravery and establishing a very close relationship with his family/ mentor in the novel The Giver by Lois Lowry, to achieve a better understanding of what emotions and feelings are.

Firstly, not being able to have a memory can be stressful because it would be hard to remember something that you no longer have a hold of, one example of that situation can be colours. In The Giver, it shows how Jonas has no memory of feelings, emotions which makes him think of what type of community he lives in. Jonas also realizes that without colour in his life, his life is plain and simple and also how he won’t be able to see anyone’s physical features such as Fiona. Not only he realizes that he can’t see colour but he also realizes that he needs to rely on The Giver to give him the memories of what colours are. He goes to his training classes and meets the Giver on regular basis and one day Jonas said that he sees something but vanishes away and he went and confronted The Giver.

“I’m right then, you are beginning to see colour” The Giver said

“The what?” Jonas replied

The Giver signed. “How to explain this? Once, back in time of the memories, everything had a shape and size, the way things still do, but they also had a quantity called colour”.

That quote from The Giver proves that they have been living in a community of no diversity and everyone has no memories and feelings. The author is trying to emplie to its readers that memory is really important and without it you would feel no emotions and feelings. One of the quotes from this chapter that helps the readers understand about feelings and emotions is “When you receive the memories, you have the capacity to see beyond. You’ll gain wisdom and joy, then, along with colours and lots more”. That quote helps understand feelings and as well as emotions because it shows how memories have the power to see beyond and express joy when the memory is happy. But at the same time it can show different types of emotions based on what memory you have. To continue, memories are important, they have the chance of showing you important life lessons that will help you make better choices in life and if Jonas does not rely on The Giver he would have never felt what pain is. Lois Lowry also uses a quote that says “The worst part of holding memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared”. If the memories are not being shared people will have no clue of what emotions are and even feelings and therefore that quote proves that readers will have a good understanding of emotions/feelings. Some memories can also bring joy and warmth, one day The Giver was transferring him the memories of grandparents sharing presents on Christmas. Jonas does not know the holiday’s name, but he experiences the warmth and happiness of the memory. He also learns that old people have not been relegated to a place of respect in the House of the Old and from that memory Jonas realizes that he has never known who the parents of his parents are (grandparents).

“What is your favourite memory” Jonas asked.

The Giver smiled. “Lie down, I’m happy to give it to you”.

“Jonas felt the joy of it as soon as the memory began. He was in a room of people, and it was warm, He could see through the window, there were coloured lights: red and green and yellow.”

“What did you perceive” The Giver asked.

“Warmth, happiness, and lets me think of family” Jonas replied.

Based from that quote that Lois Lowry stated, it shows the readers are understanding some emotions and feelings by stating what family, warmth and happiness is and how it can be expressed.

Jonas has really great character traits in him that defines who is. It also helps the readers know more about his character. Throughout the whole book Lois has shown great traits in him such as caring, responsibility, not taking back, being honest and the most important one he has shown is bravery. Throughout his training to become the new Receiver of Memories, Jonas does not back down to any challenge that he faces but instead he not only accepts painful memories, but asks for them when he sees The Giver struggling in pain. One quote that proves how readers get understanding about emotions and feelings is when Jonas says

‘But I haven’t suffered, Giver. Not really.’ Jonas smiled. ‘Oh, I remember the sunburn you gave me on the very first day. But that wasn’t so terrible. What is it that makes you suffer so much? If you gave some of it to me, maybe your pain would be less.’

That quote proves that readers are getting knowledge and understanding of emotions and feelings because it shows how Jonas is feeling bad for The Giver, because he is caring around painful memories for years. When The Giver and Jonas plan to share the memories with the rest of the community by making Jonas flee the community, he takes Gabe with him because he heard that Gabe was gonna released due to not matching with the society’s standards. Jonas leaves the community with the support of Gabriel and The Giver and he knows that without someone by his side, he will be scared and will not do it because he doesn’t have support with him. Jonas also knows that if he and Gabe gets caught they both will die, but he does it anyway to secure the lives of other people. The journey that he’s about to do requires strength and faces exhaustion as well as starvation. “He was exhausted. He knew he must sleep resting his own muscles and preparing himself for more hours on the bicycle. It would not be safe to travel in the daylight”. That quote indirectly says that he has to care for himself because he has to take care of Gabe without getting caught, and that shows emotions and feelings because it’s saying how much Jonas cares for Gabe. Another quote that shows Jonas’s caring towards Gabe is when he transfer’s him memory of the wind to keep him calm from panaking. “Before he had left the dwelling, he had laid his hands firmy on Gabe’s back and transmitted to him the most soothing memory he could: a slow swinging hammock under palm trees”. From that quote the readers have a heightened understanding of feeling because it is implying how Jonas is willing to get rid of his memories to make Gabe feel safe and calm.

Lastly, in order to have a better understanding of what emotions and feelings are, the characters must establish a close relationship. From the beginning to the end of the book, Lois Lowry made Jonas establish close relationships with The Giver, Gabe and as well as his family. The relationship that Jonas has with mentor, also known as The Giver is very different than his other relationships, his relationship is more open minded because of the rules that Jonas got from his training book. One of the rules from the book was that “from this moment you are exempted from rules governing rudeness. You may ask any questions of any citizen and you will receive answers”. From that quote it shows how Jonas has the rights of asking anything and shows that his relationship with The Giver is more open minded. The reason why it shows that it’s more open minded is because Jonas has rules he must follow if he wants to know anything. Not only The Giver tells him the answers to his questions, but he helps explain them and also comports him. When Jonas wanted to know the meaning of release, The Giver gave him the answer by showing him a video that had a baby getting injected by his dad (who was a nurturer) and dying. When Jonas started sobbing, shouting and pounded the bed using his fist the Giver comforted him by saying “You may stay here tonight. I want to talk to you. But you must be quiet now, while I notify your family unit”. That quotes proves that Jonas established his relationship with The Giver and The Giver is willing to talk to him and make Jonas express his feelings towards the releasing of a newborn child. It also shows an understanding of emotions and feelings because Jonas is now heartbroken and The Giver is trying to calm him down and at the same time he is showing care towards Jonas. Not only Jonas made a good relationship with The Giver but he also made a very stable relationship with Gariel. The Giver teaches Jonas how to love, and Jonas comes to love Gabriel and care for him by comforting him with positive memories in ways The Giver comforts him. Jonas is indirectly learning to not be selfish by transferring memories to Gabe. Jonas transfers memories such as the snow, memories of cool winds that go across the lakes. “He was not aware of giving the memory; but suddenly he realized that it was becoming dimmer, that it was sliding through his hands into the being of the new child”. When Jonas finds out that he is able to transfer memories to Gabe, he doesn’t hesitate to stop, but instead he keeps transferring him memories when he starts crying at night. By transferring him those memories, the readers learn a better understanding emotions and feelings because it shows how Jonas does not care if those memories vanish way from him. He knows that once he gives those memories he can’t retrieve them again. The feel and emotion the readers learn from that quote is to not be selfish and care for other people. Lastly, Jonas establishes a close relationship with his parents. Jonas believes and trusts his parents more than ever but ever since he got assigned his role as the Receiver of Memories, Jonas starts to not participate in his family’s daily routine such as dream telling because his training exempted him from doing that. The rules in his book said to “From this moment you are prohibited from dream telling”. Jonas may feel sad because he is no longer close with them. Furthermore the night following the Christmas memory that The Giver gave him, Jonas courageously asks his parents if they had loved him. “Do you love me?” said Jonas. “There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle”. “Jonas, you of all people. Precision of language please!” From that quote it shows how they laughed at him and reminded him that he needs to use precise language because it was against the community’s rule. It also shows that his parents don’t know what the feeling of love is and that makes Jonas really sad because he knows feelings of love. This connects to how the readers achieve a better understanding of emotions and feelings because it describes the feeling of love and sadness because his parents don’t know the meaning to love someone. His parents are always supportive and help him when he is struggling and going through puberty. Without his parents, he probably would have not known what types of dreams he was having. In other words it was the stirrings. “Finally his mother sat down beside him at the table, the feeling you described as wanting was your first stirring. It happens to everyone”. That quote shows that his mother is really supportive and helped him explain that he’s going through puberty.

In conclusion, readers achieve a better understanding of emotions and feelings by knowing the importance of memory, having good traits such as bravery and lastly establishing a very close relationship with his loved ones. By knowing the importance of memory Jonas realizes that without colour, his life is plain and simple. He not only realizes colour but he realizes the types of feelings each memory holds. Some memories may cause pain, discomfort and joy but the most important thing is without memories no one can feel any emotions or feelings. Also having good character traits is really important because defines who we are. It also helps the readers know more Jonas’s character. Jonas shows bravery when he does not back down to any challenge that he faces. He also accepts painful memories, and asks for more when he sees The Giver struggling in pain. The relationship he made with his family and as well with The Giver are key to understanding emotions because without the people in his life he would have not known what stirrings are and most important without The Giver he probably had no clue that memories existed.

Work Cited

  1. Lois Lowry, The Giver, Dell laurel leaf, 2002 [all quotes from this source]

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Understanding Emotions And Feelings In The Giver By Lois Lowry. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/understanding-emotions-and-feelings-in-the-giver-by-lois-lowry/
“Understanding Emotions And Feelings In The Giver By Lois Lowry.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/understanding-emotions-and-feelings-in-the-giver-by-lois-lowry/
Understanding Emotions And Feelings In The Giver By Lois Lowry. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/understanding-emotions-and-feelings-in-the-giver-by-lois-lowry/> [Accessed 28 Sept. 2022].
Understanding Emotions And Feelings In The Giver By Lois Lowry [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Mar 18 [cited 2022 Sept 28]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/understanding-emotions-and-feelings-in-the-giver-by-lois-lowry/
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