Study Guide

The Giver Isolation

Advertisement - Guide continues below


Chapter 1

At first, he had only been fascinated. He had never seen aircraft so close, for it was against the rules for Pilots to fly over the community. Occasionally. When the supplies were delivered by cargo planes to the landing field across the river, the children rode their bicycles to the riverbank and watched, intrigued, the unloading and then the takeoff directed to the west, always away from the community. (1.2)

Much of The Giver has to do with the way Jonas's responsibility as Receiver isolates him from the rest of his community. But it's interesting to note that the novel begins with this, a declaration of the community's isolation from the rest of the world.

Chapter 13
The Giver

"Go," The Giver would tell him tensely. "I'm in pain today. Come back tomorrow."

On those days, worried and disappointed, Jonas would walk alone beside the river. The paths were empty of people except for the few Delivery Crews and Landscape Workers here and there. Small children were all at the Childcare Center after school, and the older ones busy with volunteer hours or training. (13.80-81)

Jonas seems to be the only Twelve who is isolated because of his job. This is, needless to say, even more isolating for him.

"So there will be a whole part of your life which you won't be able to share with a family. It's hard, Jonas. It was hard for me." (13.50-51)

For The Giver, isolation has to do with the burden of duty. To break his isolation would be to share the memories he holds with others—which we know would cause them pain. In this way, The Giver is self-sacrificing.

Chapter 14

Still patting rhythmically, Jonas began to remember the wonderful sail that the Giver had given him not long before: a bright, breezy day on a clear turquoise lake, and above him the white sail of the boat billowing as he moved along in the brisk wind.

He was aware of giving the memory; but suddenly he realized that it was becoming dimmer, that it was sliding through his hand into the being of the newchild. Gabriel became quiet. Startled, Jonas pulled back what was left of the memory with a burst of will. He removed his hand from the little back and stood quietly beside the crib. (14.76-77)

Remember when The Giver says that memories are meant to be shared? Exactly. Notice that Jonas forms such a close bond with Gabriel by transferring memories to him, an action he's not allowed to do with anyone else.


"Mother? Father?" he said, the idea coming to him unexpectedly, "why don't we put Gabriel's crib in my room tonight? I know how to feed and comfort him, and it would let you and Father get some sleep." (14.69)

Jonas reaches out to Gabriel as a result of his isolation. It says something about the futility of language that he connects best with an infant with whom he cannot communicate verbally.

Chapter 17

Jonas looked at her. She was so lovely. For a fleeting instant he thought he would like nothing better than to ride peacefully along the river path, laughing and talking with his gentle female friend. But he knew such times had been taken from him now. He shook his head. After a moment his two friends turned and went to their bikes. He watched as they rode away. (17.40)

In a way, Jonas's new awareness is what isolates him from his peers. He can't do normal things anymore, like go for walks or play war games, because he's aware of suffering in the world. Since no one else shares this knowledge, he bears his burden alone. Since bearing the burden is a constant and perpetual state of being, he can't ever be with others—at least not in any meaningful way.

Chapter 20

"But don't you want to be with me, Giver?" Jonas asked sadly.

The Giver hugged him. "I love you, Jonas," he said. "But I have another place to go. When my work here is finished, I want to be with my daughter." (20.101-102)

The idea that death can be a solution to isolation is an interesting one, and this has implications for the ambiguous ending to The Giver. The Giver hints at something like a heaven, some sort of afterlife, where he imagines he will be with his daughter Rosemary. Could it be, then, that Jonas forms the same sort of bond with Gabriel because they're dying together?

Chapter 22

Gabriel had not cried during the long frightening journey. Now he did. He cried because he was hungry and cold and terribly weak. Jonas cried too, for the same reason, and another reason as well. He wept because he was afraid now that he could not save Gabriel. He no longer cared about himself. (22.23)

For Jonas, love is the way to connect with others. For him, isolation is an emotional state. Breaking it has to do with forging close emotional bonds with others – that's why his relationship with The Giver was so important.


Learn more about the theme of isolation in The Giver.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...