Study Guide

The Giver Chapter 20

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Chapter 20

  • Jonas, still raging, refuses to go home and see his father. He's crying, and The Giver, once again, says, "Be quiet," but this time in a comforting voice. He tells Jonas that no one can see or hear him sobbing. He also says Jonas can stay there for the night if he wants.
  • Once the moral outrage at killing babies dies down a bit, Jonas is consumed with outrage that his Father has been lying to him.
  • The Giver tries to explain that his Father was just following the rules, that he doesn't know how to act any differently.
  • Jonas wants to know if The Giver has ever lied to him; the old man answers no, he never has.
  • Then Jonas asks if Release is death for everyone, even the elderly. The Giver confirms that yes, it is. Even Fiona, who works with the Elderly, is being trained to do lethal injections. Because those people don't know how to have emotions, it doesn't mean anything to them.
  • Once he calms the boy down a bit, The Giver explains that the two of them are the only ones with real feelings in the entire community. The problem with holding the memories, he says, is that it's lonely—memories are meant to be shared.
  • The Giver says the two of them need to make a plan. They know that things can be different than they are now, because they've seen the past through the memories they share. Spending time with Jonas has made The Giver realize that things have to change. And he thinks there might be a way…
  • In a brilliant, suspense-building shift, we don't get to hear their plan. We cut to the post-planning, where the two have come up with an idea.
  • Jonas is sitting wrapped up in The Giver's robe, the kind the Elders wear. He knows that if their plan doesn't work, he will very likely be killed.
  • Jonas asks The Giver to come with him, but the old man refuses. Jonas needs to escape to Elsewhere—knowing that he can never come back—and then the memories he's taken will be released to the community. The Giver hopes that, through these memories, the citizens will acquire some wisdom. He has to stick around to help them.
  • Both Jonas and The Giver know that the Elders will try to pick a new Receiver, and quickly too, to take the memories and ease the burden. But The Giver knows that there isn't another one ready.
  • Jonas reminds him that there's a young girl with light eyes, except she's only a Six. The fact is, the community will have to deal with the memories themselves.
  • Besides, says The Giver, he's too old and weak to make the journey. He doesn't even see colors anymore, he admits, which really hits home for Jonas.
  • Speaking of colors, Jonas would like to know more about what The Giver meant so long ago. He said that he "perceived beyond" when he was young, too, except it wasn't colors that he perceived.
  • The Giver says that the only way Jonas will understand is if he transmits to Jonas the memory in question. He's been holding on to it, he says, a bit selfishly. It's music, he says. He used to hear music.
  • Of course, Jonas doesn't know what this is. But he refuses to take the memory from The Giver, insisting that the old man should keep it for himself.
  • When Jonas finally goes home, he pretends everything is hunky-dory with his Father.
  • Jonas spends the next day at school going over the plan in his head, which at last we get to hear about: for the next two weeks, as the December Ceremony approaches, Jonas will get ready to escape to Elsewhere. The Giver will transmit memories of courage to help him.
  • Then, the night before the big Ceremony, Jonas will sneak out of his house and hide his bicycle and clothes by the river. Then he'll come to the Annex, where The Giver will be waiting for him.
  • As the plan goes, his parents will wake up and find a cheery note about Jonas having gone for an early bike ride. They'll wait and wait, and, finally, they'll just leave for the Ceremony without him. No one will notice his absence all day because they'll be so wrapped up in the festivities.
  • Meanwhile, The Giver, who typically does not attend the December Ceremony, would order a vehicle, send the driver away under some pretense, and hide Jonas inside the truck.
  • By the time everyone has found Jonas's bicycle and clothes by the river, the boy will be long gone, and the community will turn to The Giver to help them through the crisis.
  • The Giver will explain that Jonas accidentally drowned in the river, and then he will help them cope with the new memories.
  • That's the plan. While he knows that The Giver needs to stay, Jonas still wants him to come along on the escape.
  • The Giver explains that he will stay to help the citizens. After that, he says, he wants to be with his daughter—Rosemary.

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