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Free Study Guide for The Giver by Lois Lowry

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QUOTATIONS - IMPORTANT QUOTES AND ANALYSIS


These quotations came from the edition of The Giver published by Dell Laurel-Leaf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc. This edition was printed September 2002.


1.) “We failed in our last selection....I will not dwell on the experience because it causes us all terrible
discomfort.”
(Page 61)

The Chief Elder is referring to an earlier Receiver who did not complete her training. When she left, it caused much pain in the community. The reader does not find out the details until later, when the Giver talks to Jonas about what happened.

2.) “Well, there was the telling of his life. That is always first. Then the toast. We all raised our glasses and cheered. We chanted the anthem. He made a lovely good-bye speech. And several of us made little speeches wishing him well.” (Page 32)

Larissa, one of the Old, is describing the ceremony before the Release of another of the Old. The community thinks that Release is something good. A few do wonder why it is such a secret event, but most just accept what they have been led to believe.

3.) “What if they had all been instructed: You may lie?” (Page 71)

When Jonas becomes the new Receiver, he is given a sheet of rules. The last rule on the page is “You may lie.” These three words send shocks through him. Throughout his childhood, he was aware that he was not allowed to lie. Based on this, he has assumed that others are likewise not allowed to lie. But, if he is allowed to lie, perhaps others have also been given permission, when they became a Twelve, to lie. He has no way to find out if others can lie. It is obvious to him that, if someone has permission to lie, they can lie about whether or not they can lie.

4.) “Well, everything’s different now.” (Page 72) On the day following the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas gives this response to Fiona when she says “I don’t know why I’m nervous. I’ve been here so often before.”


For Jonas, everything is different now. His Assignment is one that he did not expect. And, it is different from all the Assignments given to the other Twelves. His life has been completely changed. He must go straight to the old Receiver in the Annex to the House of the Old each day after school. After he meets with the Receiver for his training, he must go straight to his home. He may now ask any question of anyone. He may not discuss his training or his dreams with anyone. He is not allowed pain medication for anything related to his training. And, he may lie! He practically has a whole new life.

5.) “I thought there was only us. I thought there was only now.” (Page 78)

When this statement is made, Jonas has just met the old Receiver, also referred to as the Giver. He is telling us, along with the Giver, how the world appears to him before he starts receiving memories. He knows nothing that is in the memories. He knows nothing of the past, not even that there was a past. He knows nothing about the outside world. He has heard of a place referred to as Elsewhere, but knows nothing about it. Over the next weeks and months, Jonas’s fund of knowledge will grow enormously.

6.) “We gained control of many things. But, we had to let go of others.” “We shouldn’t have!” (Page 95)

The first quote is uttered by the Giver. The next quote is from Jonas. They are talking about their ancestors’ switch to Sameness.

Jonas is wise enough to know that when one figures out how much is gained by an action, one must subtract what is lost in the process. Jonas figures out that more was lost than was gained.

7.) “We really have to protect people from wrong choices.” (Page 99)

This quote is taken from Jonas. He had decided that choices are good. But, then he realized that most likely sometimes people would make bad choices. Some bad choices would have no consequences or only minor consequences. An example given is choosing what color to wear. However, some bad choices would have dire consequences. An example given is choosing one’s job. At this point in the story, Jonas is still thinking about all the new ideas to which he has recently been exposed and trying to make sense of all that he has learned.

8.) “But why can’t everyone have the memories? I think it would seem a little easier if the memories were shared. You and I wouldn’t have to bear so much by ourselves, if everyone took a part.”

The Giver sighed. “You’re right,” he said. “But then everyone would be burdened and pained. They don’t want that. And that’s the real reason The Receiver is so vital to them, and so honored. They selected me-and you-to lift that burden from themselves.” (Pages 112-3)

The first quote is from Jonas. The second quote is spoken by the Giver.

Jonas knows that sharing makes what is hard to bear easier to bear. It seems sensible to him that the painful memories be shared. At the same time, if all memories were shared, the pleasant memories would add to the pleasure of everyone’s life. And, they all could become closer to one another, if memories were shared.

The Giver believes, as Jonas does, that sharing the memories with the community would be a good idea. But, he is not optimistic that the community will agree. They went to Sameness many generations ago. They do not want pain. The positive effects of sharing the memories do not seem important to them.

Soon, Jonas realizes that nothing can be changed, at least not by getting the community to agree.

9.) “I’m the next on the list. I’ll have to select the one to be nurtured and the one to be released. It’s usually not hard though. Usually it’s just a matter of birthweight. We release the smaller of the two.” (Page 114)

This quote is from Father. He is telling his family about the decision to be made after the imminent birth of identical twins. Long ago, when the community went to Sameness, it was decided that having two people in the community who look exactly alike would be too confusing for the community. The community aims to have everyone be similar to everyone else, but not identical.

When Father says “It’s usually not hard though” we get a sense of how unfeeling the community is. It is not that they are actually cruel people. They just do not have the depth of understanding that memories would give them.


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