The Importance of Memory

In Jonas's community there is no need for memory. At least that is what those who guide the community believe. Jonas's community does not want its members to experience the pain that memory often brings. But, some memories are pleasant. And, without memory there are no pleasurable recollections either.

The Importance of the Individual

As Jonas grew up he ignored differences between people. The members of the community considered it impolite to draw attention to differences between people. As Jonas acquired memories he realized that differences are something to be celebrated and made use of, not ignored.

The Value of Freedom to Make Choices

The people in Jonas's community do not make choices. The community's choices have been made by others in the past. A few new choices are made by a small group selected to do that. Most people in the community do not realize that there is a better way. As the story develops, Jonas realizes the importance of making choices even if the wrong choice is sometimes made. The story leads us to realize that the positive results of freedom to make choices outweigh the negative effects, such as making mistakes.

The Relationship between Pain and Pleasure

Just as sweet and sour tastes each help us to notice the other more fully, pleasure and pain each help us to notice the other more fully.

Minor Themes

The Value of a Multi-generational Family

The members of the families in the community are put together by others. When the two children in each family are grown, the parents do not remain together. There is no longer a family unit. The older people are separate from the rest of the community. When Jonas receives a memory of a family group that includes grandparents, he immediately sees the value of such a group.

The Importance of Making Connections

Our connections with other people are very important. The author knows this and incorporates it into her story.

The Value of Diversity

The story shows the value of diversity. Sameness gives the community a feeling of safety, but diversity is more interesting.

The Importance of Honesty

When he becomes the Receiver of Memories, Jonas is told that he can lie. He begins to wonder if others also have permission to lie. He cannot ask if those whom he asks are forbidden to lie because an affirmative answer could be a lie. This distresses Jonas. He is also distressed by the way that the names of various things are misleading and dishonest. An example is the use of the word release in the community.


The mood of this novel is apprehensive. We see through the eyes of the protagonist, Jonas. In the beginning of the story, Jonas's apprehension is centered on what assignment he will be given during the Ceremony of Twelve. Later in the tale, the causes of his apprehension are more serious.

Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".