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We see The Giver for the first time at the Ceremony of Twelve, and note that he has light eyes, just like Jonas.
When Jonas first visits The Giver, he notices how old the man is. The Giver tells him not to waste time apologizing and to ask any questions he wants.
The Giver then transmits the first memory to Jonas: that of sledding downhill in the snow. After that, he lets Jonas feel sunburn.
The Giver explains to Jonas all about color, especially the red Jonas has been seeing everywhere. He explains that he, too, had the capacity to perceive beyond when he was Jonas's age, but it wasn't color, it was something else.
When they talk about choice, The Giver asks Jonas questions, and the boy concludes that choice is dangerous. The Giver explains all about "Sameness."
The Giver passes the Jonas the memory of poachers killing an elephant, and the grief its spouse felt when it was left alone in the world.
When Jonas asks to receive something painful, The Giver sends him the memory of a broken leg.
When Jonas asks why it is that they have to preserve such awful memories as starvation, The Giver explains that memories of suffering provide the community with the tools everyone needs to make informed decisions about the future. He talks about the ways in which he provides advice for the Committee of Elders, and why it is that they're so resistant to change.
One day, Jonas finds The Giver rocking with pain. The old man asks him to take some of the pain, and then transmits to Jonas the memory of warfare.
To make up for it, The Giver transmits a series of happy memories, including Christmas morning. The two of them talk about love and grandparents, and Jonas says he wishes The Giver could be his grandfather.
The Giver finally explains to Jonas about Rosemary. He narrates that he would only give her memories of emotional pain, not physical, and that she applied for release afterward.
When Jonas watches the video demonstrating that release is really death, The Giver says that Rosemary injected herself.
The two of them start to plot an escape for Jonas. When the boy asks The Giver to run away with him, the old man insists that he has to stay and help the community deal with the memories that will be released to them. He adds that he wants afterwards to be with his daughter, Rosemary.