Study Guide

The Giver Chapter 4 Summary

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Chapter 4

  • Jonas looks for Asher so they can do their "volunteer hours" after school. This is really the only part of the day, he notes, where he gets to decide what he wants to do (that is, where he wants to volunteer). The children start volunteer hours when they become Eights.
  • Jonas thinks about a boy named Benjamin who spent all his hours at the Rehabilitation Center, and who basically knows everything there is to know about the job while he's still only Eleven.
  • He finally finds Asher's bicycle (they all have name tags on them) outside the House of the Old, next to Fiona's bicycle. Jonas thinks she's a cool girl; like Asher, she's got a sense of humor.
  • Once inside, Jonas signs the log book that records his volunteer hours. If he didn't have enough come December, he wouldn't be allowed to take part in the Ceremony (which, as you might guess, is quite disgraceful).
  • The woman at the front desk reports that they celebrated a release earlier that day (remember, being old is one of the non-disgraceful reasons for getting released).
  • Jonas heads to the bathing room to join Asher and Fiona. On the way, he realizes that he didn't rack up all his volunteer hours in one place, the way that Benjamin guy did; he basically tried out all of the community jobs. This means he has no idea what assignment he'll get at the Ceremony…
  • Once in the bathing room, Jonas sets to bathing an old woman. It reminds him of the way his father bathed the baby Gabriel last night. He knows it's against the rules for any person to see another person naked, except for babies and the elderly. This "no being naked" rule seems useless to him.
  • The old woman, whose name is Larissa, tells Jonas about the release that happened earlier that day. At these events, they always tell the life story of the person who's getting released—just think of it as an obituary.
  • Some of "the Tellings," as she calls them, are boring, but this one—for a man named Roberto—was particularly interesting. Roberto had lived a full life.
  • Jonas asks Larissa what it's like, the actual moment of release.
  • She's not sure. All she knows is that the person in question walks through a door to the Releasing Room. But she does report that Roberto looked happy as he left.
  • They both wonder why children aren't allowed to witness releases.

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