Jonas tries to name the emotion he feels in response to the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve; he decides it is "apprehension."
At dinner, Jonas listens to his family talk about their feelings. Afterwards, he has a private conversation with his parents about the upcoming ceremony.
When Jonas's Father brings home Gabriel, Jonas notes that this baby, like himself, has light-colored eyes.
He recalls the time when, while playing catch with Asher, he saw an apple "change," though it was fleeting and he couldn't describe it afterwards.
Jonas goes to the House of the Old for his volunteer hours and meets up with Fiona and Asher while he's there. He bathes Larissa and listens to her describe the Release ceremony for an old man named Roberto.
At breakfast the next morning, Jonas confesses his sexy dream about Fiona and has to start taking pills for his "Stirrings."
At the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas is skipped over. Afterwards, the Chief Elder explains that he has been "selected" to serve as The Receiver. Looking over at the old Receiver, Jonas sees that he, too, has light eyes.
That night, Jonas's parents tell him what a great honor this is.
When Jonas goes over the new list of rules he received, he is shocked to find that he's allowed to lie, and begins to wonder if others lie as well.
Jonas goes to The Giver and receives his first memory, that of sledding down a hill in the snow. He also receives the memory of sunburn, his first encounter with pain in a memory.
Jonas sees Fiona's hair "change" the same way the apple did. When he asks The Giver about it, the old man explains to him all about color. They discuss how the community lost the freedom of choice, but gained safety, when it sacrificed things like color and climate and hills for "Sameness."
Jonas tries to get Asher and, later, his sister to see what he can now see in the world around him, but it doesn't work, especially because of that pesky "no touching" rule.
Jonas asks The Giver if he's allowed to have a family. The old man explains that he could, but that a large part of his life would have to be solitary.
Jonas asks about the "failure" with the last Receiver ten years ago, and The Giver explains what happened when painful memories were released to the general public.
Jonas becomes increasingly isolated from his friends, taking long walks alone by the river.
Finally, Jonas asks to receive a painful memory from The Giver. When he feels intense physical pain for the first time, he is shocked. He realizes that all the emotions he's ever experienced thus far have been shallow and meaningless.
Jonas starts bonding with Gabriel, who begins sleeping in his room. He passes soothing memories to the baby to help him sleep at night.
The Giver passes the memory of warfare onto Jonas. He tries to make up for it with memories of things like birthday parties after that.
When Jonas asks about The Giver's favorite memory, the old man transmits a memory of Christmas morning. The pair has a discussion about love, which is "warm" but "dangerous." Jonas thinks some more about family, especially grandparents, and the way that their community doesn't promote any sort of inter-generational connection.
One holiday, Jonas finds his friends playing a war game and nearly breaks down in tears. They don't understand when he tries to warn them not to play it.
Jonas's father discusses a set of twins that's been born and the fact that he'll have to choose one of them to release the next morning.
The next morning, Jonas finally gets The Giver to tell him about Rosemary, the failed Receiver. We see that she, too, had luminous eyes, and that The Giver loved her and wouldn't give her memories of physical pain, only emotional pain. She asked for release and he never saw her again.
Jonas mentions that his father is releasing one twin today. The Giver thinks that Jonas ought to watch the tape of the release.
Jonas does so, and discovers that release is really lethal injection. He's horrified to see that his father is both a murderer and a liar, though The Giver tries to explain that Jonas's Father is simply following his training.
Jonas flips out, and he and The Giver start plotting. The plan is for Jonas to escape on the day of the Ceremony of Twelve, in upcoming December.
The plan goes awry when Jonas finds out that Gabriel is going to be released. He steals the infant and runs away from the community, dodging search planes for several days afterwards.
Jonas continues to struggle to keep himself and Gabriel alive as they run out of food and the weather starts getting colder. At the same time, he feels as though he's getting closer and closer to Elsewhere.
Jonas comes to a steep hill covered in snow, abandons his bicycle, and walks up it with Gabriel, trying to warm them both with what memories he has left of sunshine.
When they get to the top, he finds a sled waiting for them. Ahead of him, he thinks he sees lights and colors, and hears music for the first time.
As they speed down the hill, Jonas thinks he hears music coming from behind him as well, but it could just be an echo.