The giver is written from the point of view of Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy living in a futuristic society that has eliminated all pain, fear, war, and hatred. There is no prejudice, since everyone looks and acts basically the same, and there is very little competition. Everyone is unfailingly polite. The society has also eliminated choice: at age twelve every member of the community is assigned a job based on his or her abilities and interests. Citizens can apply for and be assigned compatible spouses, and each couple is assigned exactly two children each. The children are born to Birthmothers, who never see them, and spend their first year in a Nurturing Center with other babies, or “newchildren,” born that year. When their children are grown, family units dissolve and adults live together with Childless Adults until they are too old to function in the society. Then they spend their last years being cared for in the House of the Old until they are finally “released” from the society. In the community, release is death, but it is never described that way; most people think that after release, flawed newchildren and joyful elderly people are welcomed into the vast expanse of Elsewhere that surrounds the communities. Citizens who break rules or fail to adapt properly to the society's codes of behavior are also released, though in their cases it is an occasion of great shame. Everything is planned and organized so that life is as convenient and pleasant as possible.
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. At the beginning of the novel, he is apprehensive about the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve, when he will be given his official Assignment as a new adult member of the community. He does not have a distinct career preference, although he enjoys volunteering at a variety of different jobs. Though he is a well-behaved citizen and a good student, Jonas is...
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