by Lois Lowry
Analysis: Plot Analysis
Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.
Jonas is waiting for December.
This is how things start off in The Giver. Jonas waits with what, after some deliberation, he identifies to be "apprehension" for this mysterious "Ceremony of Twelve" that's coming up next month. We know something big is coming soon, but we're still in the dark about what that is.
Jonas is named the new Receiver.
This is the big something we've been waiting for. First Jonas is skipped over during the Ceremony of Twelve – that's like a conflict appetizer. Then he's named The Receiver, which is definitely your main course. For conflict dessert you've got that first mysterious meeting with The Giver.
Like they say, being the Receiver isn't all fun and games.
As if being solely responsible for containing all the memories of all humanity for generations into history were not complicated enough, Jonas soon finds that the nature of those memories throws a real monkey-wrench into his life. As the bad memories keep coming, so does the strain on his life. His own feelings on the matter get more complicated, too, since he starts to doubt the integrity of his community.
Jonas watches his father kill a baby.
Cue the dramatic music! This is the big emotional climax of the text since Jonas realizes that his father 1) has been lying to him his entire life, and 2) murders babies. (You can argue about which one of those is more traumatizing.) Anyway, it's also the climax of the book's action, because it sets in motion Jonas's whole "I'm running away!" gig.
Going up the hill…
The trip up the hill is suspenseful, as is everything that leads up to the going up the hill, if that makes sense. As soon as we hear that Gabriel is to be "released" (which by this point we know equals death), we're in major suspense. We don't know if Gabe is going to be killed, if Jonas is going to get caught, if he's going to die…
Coming down the other side…
Once Jonas makes it to the top, it's all downhill from there. Hardy har har. Depending on your interpretation of the ending, you know at this part that Jonas is either speeding down toward Elsewhere, or he's finally died.
You tell us.
The conclusion to The Giver is uncertain. Either Jonas and Gabriel make it to Elsewhere, or they die freezing in the snow. You can check out Shmoop's "What's Up With the Ending?" for some general discussion.