The Giver: Top Ten Quotes

“It’s the choosing that’s important.” p. 98 Jonas is talking about the sameness in the community and how he has to wear the same, old blue tunic. The Giver points out that choice is at the heart of the matter; when you can’t choose, it makes life very dull.

“If you were to be lost in the river, Jonas, your memories would not be lost with you.  Memories are forever.”  p. 144 Jonas cannot bear the burden that his new assignment has placed on his shoulders, and he tells the Giver he would rather die than keep them to himself. The Giver reminds him that if he dies, the memories will not die with him but will return to the community.

“Now he saw another elephant emerge from the place where it had stood hidden in the trees. Very slowly it walked to the mutilated body and looked down. With its sinuous trunk it stroked the huge corpse; then it reached up, broke some leafy branches with a snap, and draped them over the mass of torn thick flesh.”  p. 100 This is a memory Jonas receives about the killing of an elephant. It is important because it is the first time Jonas understands that animals are real, but also the pain they feel and how we can relate to it.  

“The Giver looked at him with a questioning smile.  Jonas hung his head. Of course they needed to care. It was the meaning of everything.”  p. 157 Jonas tells the Giver that he doesn’t need to care about the community because the things they do are bad; Jonas wants the Giver to flee the community with him. The Giver tells him that the most important thing we can do is care.

When he says “meaning,” it is very important.  t is meant to show that the importance the community attaches to the meaning of words and rules do not have true meaning, but the true meaning comes through caring. 

“…seeing the new child and its expression, he was reminded that the light eyes were not only a rarity but gave the one who had them a certain look—what was it? Depth, he decided; as if one were looking into the clear water of the river, down to the bottom, where things might lurk which hadn’t been discovered yet.”  p. 21This is about the child Gabriel who comes to live with Jonas’s family unit. This quote serves to foreshadow the ability Jonas has, the assignment he will receive, and that Gabriel has the same receiving ability. It also serves to point out the importance of “depth” in people and not just the superficial qualities in a person.

“It was the sort of thing one didn’t ask a friend about because it might have fallen into that uncomfortable category of ‘being different.’”  p. 38

“You do understand, don’t you, that this is my life. The memories?”  p. 103The Giver explains to Jonas that the responsibility of his job is keeping memories secret from all the people in the community, and that in doing this, he is the memories.

“They know nothing.”  p. 105 Jonas is explaining to the giver about how the scientists in the community view the brain, that it is only like a computer full of electrical impulses stimulating one part—the Giver responds with the above quote.

“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 that such times had been taken from him now.”  p. 135 This somber quote comes toward the end of the book when Jonas realizes with these memories he has been receiving, he has lost his innocence.  He can never be in his community without knowing the things that are hidden from them, so he will always be an outsider. This is one of the rules of the community. People weren’t to make others feel uncomfortable, and Jonas was wanting to ask his friend Asher why he had to take a pill. 

“He had seen a birthday party, with one child singled out and celebrated on his day, so that now he understood the joy of being an individual, special and unique and proud.”  p. 121.This is referencing one of Jonas’s happy memories of a birthday party. It is there to serve as a contrast to the way in which the members of his community live, where they do not hold up the individual in high esteem, and they do not have unique feelings, and ultimately, do not have love.