Asher is Jonas’s best friend at school. Asher makes Jonas laugh. He talks fast and scrambles words and phrases until they are barely recognizable. Asher represents familiarity for Jonas, something that he tries to cling to when his world turns upside down.
Benjamin is in Jonas’s class. Benjamin is very intelligent and possesses scientific aptitude and had designed new equipment for the Rehabilitation Center.
This is Jonas’s family’s world, where they live. There is no war, no pain, and no fear. Every person is assigned a role in the community based upon his/her attributes and skills and interests. Jonas learns the truth about the community and escapes to Elsewhere, the outside world that has been hidden from the community. Jonas also learns that all emotions have been masked into non-existence for the members of the community: through rules and the use of the pill. It is the Community that Jonas grows to hate, an emotion that drives him to escape, to leave his family, which is the only way he can help them.
Committee of Elders
The Committee of Elders is a group of people who make the rules for the community.
Jonas’s father is also not given a name in the novel. He is quite the opposite of Mother, a shy and quiet man, and his role in the community is Nurturer of the newchildren. He possesses a calm disposition and is very warm and loving to Jonas and Lily. Jonas looks up to his father and respects him. Father is the catalyst for the change in Jonas’s character at the end of the novel when Jonas learns the shocking truth about Releasing, one of the rituals of the community, and about his father.
Fiona is another friend of Jonas’s. She is the catalyst for a major change in Jonas. He develops “stirrings,” feelings of longing and desire for the opposite sex, and he has a dream about Fiona. He relates the dream openly to his parents. Jonas is made to take a pill, which completely stops the “stirrings,” the feelings he has experienced.
Gabriel is a newchild that Father is nurturing at the Center where he works. Gabriel is not doing well, not growing as fast as he should and not sleeping soundly. Gabriel comes to stay with Jonas’s family, and Jonas ends up taking care of Gabriel a couple of nights, so his parents can get some rest. The baby is another catalyst in Jonas’s final journey away from the community into the outside world.
The Giver is the most important member in the Committee of Elders, the one who holds the memories of the whole world, and a major character in the novel. He is introduced to Jonas after Jonas receives his Assignment as the Receiver. The Giver is a wise, elderly man, who transmits all his memories to Jonas. The Giver was the previous Receiver of Memory, but after Jonas is assigned, Jonas will be the Receiver. Jonas and the Giver form a strong bond with one another.
Harriet is a shy female in Jonas’s class.
Isaac is a boy in Jonas’s class.
Jonas is the protagonist, the main character in the novel. He is eleven years old at the beginning of the novel and twelve at the end of the story. Jonas is a quiet, serious young boy, and his curiosity creates much toil in his heart as he discovers the truth about the world in which he lives. He learns hard truths about his father and about life on the outside, in a place called Elsewhere, his final destination. Jonas’s character changes the most in the story.
Larissa is an elderly lady whom Jonas cares for at the House of the Old. She is the catalyst for Jonas’s dream he has about Fiona. Jonas and Asher and Fiona all work at the House of the Old. They help with bathing the elderly. Jonas learns compassion and understanding for the old through helping Larissa.
Lily is Jonas’s seven-year-old sister. She is rather naÔve, rather annoying to her brother at times. Jonas says she is never quiet.
Madeline and Inger
Madeline and Inger are two girls in Jonas’s class.
Jonas’s parents are not given names in the novel. Jonas’s mother is very intelligent, and her job is with the Department of Justice, as a judge. Her role as the mother is quite different in their world, called a community. She is firm with her children, almost devoid of emotion. She is supportive of her family, but her job keeps her distant.
Pierre is also in Jonas’s class, but Jonas does not like Pierre much because he is too serious, not much fun, and a worrier and a tattletale.
The Receiver is an assignment that is given to a member of the community. Jonas is assigned this role at the Ceremony of Twelve. It is an honorable role, “the most important member” of the Committee. Jonas is bewildered by his assignment. He later learns that he is responsible for receiving memory when he enters his training.
Rosemary was the Giver’s daughter, and she had also been assigned as the Receiver ten years before Jonas was assigned. Rosemary could not take the painful memories transmitted to her by her father. She requested to be released. But she chose to do it herself, an act of suicide. Jonas learns of this later when The Giver relates the story about his daughter.