The novel's protagonist, he is an intelligent and courageous boy with the Capacity to See Beyond. He learns that instead of receiving an assignment, he has been selected to become the next Receiver of Memory for the community, which entails holding society's memories and providing guidance to the Elders. He is thus to become something like a prophet, which suggests that Lowry has named him after the Biblical prophet Jonah. As the acquisition of society's memories gives him wisdom and a new appreciation for individual differences and human emotions, he gradually becomes disillusioned with his society and is eventually faced with the choice either to continue being The Receiver or to take action to place his community on a new path.
The previous Receiver of Memory, he serves as a tutor and a mentor for Jonas, introducing Jonas to new concepts as he transmits the memories. Although he suffers terribly as The Receiver, The Giver took more years than Jonas to realize the necessity for action and change in their society, and by the end of the novel, his experiences with Jonas cause him to realize that he can help the community in a similar manner.
Jonas's younger sister, she is a chatty and vivacious girl who shows an interest in taking care of newchildren. Although she can be insensitive, she takes a lively interest in discussing her surroundings.
A worker at the Department of Justice, she often shows a more practical side than Jonas's father in their conversations with the family.
A kind and caring man who works as a Nurturer and who often plays with Jonas and Lily, he nevertheless follows his training and releases infants when deemed appropriate.
Jonas's father brings this newchild home temporarily in order to give him more care so that he will not be released. Gabriel becomes a lively, inquisitive toddler, and Jonas discovers that he is also able to receive memories. However, he becomes dependent on sleeping in Jonas's room, which leads the Nurturers to agree to release him, a decision that causes a drastic change in Jonas's plans.
A cheerful boy who sometimes rushes his words and his actions carelessly, he is Jonas's best friend. He receives the Assignment of Assistant Director of Recreation. Asher does not understand when Jonas tries obliquely to share his new knowledge with Asher.
A sweet and patient girl with red hair for whom Jonas has romantic feelings, she trains to become a Caretaker for the Old. However, the divide between her and Jonas grows over the course of the novel.
The leader of the community, she presides over the Ceremony of Twelve.
One of the Old whom Jonas bathes during volunteer hours, she has a sharp sense of humor and enjoys lively discussion. She tells Jonas about Roberto's Ceremony of Release.
The previous Receiver-in-Training and The Giver's daughter, she was deeply affected by her new knowledge of pain and chose to apply for release, delivering the lethal injection to herself.
The Giver Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Giver is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The family unit is only there to bring up children. Lasting loyalties are discouraged. The family unit is fractured when kids grow up so that the Elders are the ones who control the social fabric of the community.