“The Giver,” Chapters 4 and 5

July 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm 18 comments

Book: The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Illustrated by: Lucy Knisley

Chapter 4:

This scene from the fourth chapter is a weird one. Jonas is fulfilling his last few volunteer hours as “an eleven,” so he rides his bike to the “House of the Old,” to join his friends in caring for the elderly of the community. There, he bathes a woman who tells him glowingly about a “release” that took place earlier, when an man at the house of the old was “released” from the community.

There’s a lot of talk of physicality in this scene. It’s explained that within the community, seeing anyone naked is forbidden (excluding the elderly and the very young). Much time is spent describing the steamy room and the woman’s frail skin and Jonas’ friend, Fiona, who, nearby, is washing an elderly man.

It’s always been a really eerily visual scene to me. The strange sexuality of this moment points out how the rest of life within the community is decidedly un-sexual. Reproduction is handled through designated birthmothers who are (one assumes) artificially inseminated. Even “mothers” and “fathers” are assigned to one another, and seem to behave like just good pals.

Man, this is such a great, creepy book.

Chapter 5:

In this chapter, Jonas and his family gather around the breakfast table to discuss their dreams from the previous night. Jonas shares a confusing, uncomfortable dream, in which he is trying to bathe his friend Fiona as he did for the elderly woman in the previous chapter. In the dream, Fiona laughingly refuses, which makes Jonas “angry.” His mother explains that the dream is his first “stirring,” which indicates that he has reached the time when he should begin to take the daily pills that are taken by all adults in the community.

Another creepy one. The dream is actually less sexual than the bathing scene from the former chapter, but it’s strange that Jonas is consumed with a kind of anger in his dream. This frustration, while perfectly natural in sexy dreams, reflects how repressed the sexuality is within this community, so that sexuality manifests as frustration and “wanting” in Jonas’ dream.

Congratulated on reaching the age that allows him to join his parents and friend Asher in taking the pills, Jonas becomes proud of his new status and takes the pills. As soon as he’s taken them, he tries to recapture the “pleasurable feelings in the dream,” but they quickly slip away and vanish.

They drugged the sexy right out of this community!

I thought these two chapters went so well together that they should post both at once. Next month: The start of the The Ceremony!

Entry filed under: The Giver. Tags: .

The Neverending Story, part III Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rebecca Burgess  |  July 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    I love your artwork so much, so straight forward and clear. And this book sounds very interesting, what kind of culture has the author come from /looking at that this book is reflected upon, I wonder?:)

  • 2. eva  |  July 23, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    i loved lowry’s anastasia krupnik books when i was a kid. i’ve never read any of her other stuff, but your illustrations & summaries are intriguing me!

  • 3. daniel  |  July 25, 2010 at 4:59 am

    this is WAT I’VE LOOKING 4!!
    also, I like ur illustration, too

  • 4. Pragmatic Mom  |  July 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I keep hearing so much about this book. I really have to read it. The illustrations are intriguing and pull in the reader in a comic book type of way.

    Pragmatic Mom

  • 5. Suprise  |  September 23, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Im reading this book in class and your drawings maze me. I showed my teacher she says they are wonderful.

  • 6. Teresa  |  May 18, 2011 at 8:44 am

    I love this book

  • 7. Wildnese  |  June 12, 2011 at 7:36 am

    i hate the ending

  • 8. someone1001  |  November 29, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    i love this book but the end is really sad

    • 9. John  |  December 1, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      I don’t agree it was a good ending! It was a very emotional ending when they whent down the sled and into the city to see christmas lights and people singing. That means they moved to a new place and they will happilly live there with someone and there is another book telling a new story about what happens!

    • 10. sam  |  July 4, 2014 at 10:51 am


  • 11. roba jabour  |  May 24, 2012 at 7:26 am

    its amazing and we r tking it in skool but the end sucks i wnt to know wt happens

    • 12. Freakyjacks  |  December 1, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      There are more than just one book. 😛

      • 13. Bunny rabbit 🐰  |  February 1, 2014 at 5:40 pm

        Why is there more than one book? Is it that they’re different?

  • 14. Ariboo  |  September 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    This book is awesome

  • 15. Caregiving 101  |  August 2, 2014 at 1:47 am

    Hi, I honestly think that the bath scene contributed to the validity of the fictional world’s construction.

    Do any of you know how many children are responsible for the care of their younger siblings or older grandparents? It must just be a cultural stigma in the US and developed nations… But around the world nudity and sexuality are not one in the same.

    For instance, in Japan there are public bath houses where men and women will shower themselves off and then soak (naked as the day they were born) in a deep soaking tub. At these houses you will see anyone from toddlers to old grannies. Granted, the bath houses are split up into male-only or female-only sections. But nudity, itself is not to be feared.

    Did any of you take baths with your brother or sister when you were young? It’s kind of like that. Nudity does not and should not equal sexual arousal. But the world that Jonas lives in is so repressed that it’s no small wonder if he automatically associates nudity with taboo feelings of arousal.

    I really can’t agree with the creepy-overtones people get from this scene. I don’t see anything about the characterization of the old lady as sexual or predatory over a young boy. It’s not like he stripped down naked to help bathe her. It’s not like he had “pleasurable feelings” from washing her.

    Anyone from the US or developed nations must really have had a cultural shock when reading this scene. Especially if you are a youngster.

    When you are young you don’t have any concept of the changes that occur to aged bodies. You take your youth for granted. And when faced with the reality of aging, it is frightening, depressing, and eyeopening.

    But it’s also a natural part of life and death. The old ladies and old men that shock you were once just as young as you are now.

    Speaking from firsthand experience as a nursing assistant turned nurse, there is a definite culture of care to adhere to when you are involved in the intimate care many elderly (or very young) individuals need.

    At the end of the day, any one of us may end up in a caregiver role where we have to try to meet the basic needs of a family member, stranger, or loved one. And that will inevitably involve hygiene and elimination.

    The one thing I really hate about people’s reactions to this passage are the suggestion that something sexual is going on. It perpetuates a very negative and destructive stereotype for gender-role expectations.

    So many male nurses I work with are hesitant to show their caring and compassionate sides to patients. They are afraid that they will be seen as sexually predatory or painted as effeminate and homosexual. So, for everyone out there who read’s this scene as “men, even young boys, can’t be around a naked female body (of any age) without having sexual arousal….” Please just stop. Stop and reconsider the offensive stereotype you are perpetuating.

    You are perpetuating a stereotype that presents a real barrier to care for many male nurses or male care-providers.

    Also, what shocks me is how there seems to be no objection to Fiona bathing an elderly man. Is that because women are commonly seen as caregivers? Or is it because people would be less likely to question a sexual relationship between elderly men and young girls? If you think about it, there are MILLIONS of child-brides, married off to much older men (sometimes men on their deathbed). Why is that something no one questions?

    Children of all ages have reproductive organs. Even if a child goes through puberty, that child should still be considered a minor and off limits (and for good reason).

    Does anyone want to know why? No matter how physically mature or attractive a body is, the mind attached to that body needs to be at a stage of development that can tolerate the potential and real psychological consequences of sexual intimacy.

    Even if a child/teen/adolescent has working parts, they likely ALL lack the maturity and level of psychological development necessary to engage is sexual activity (with eachother and with older adults). Why can’t we all agree to that? Just because the equipment is there doesn’t mean a child should be treated as anything other than a child. Even if Fiona was 17 years old and wanted to have sex with a man as old as her father, or a guy that is her age or younger; it doesn’t mean she is mature enough to handle the repercussions of sexual intimacy.

    The same goes for Jonas. Children, adolescents, and teens should not be having full out sexual intercourse until they are prepared for the consequences (STDs/STIs, motherhood, fatherhood, pregnancy, Hepatitis, and the risk to their psychological well-fare). The problem with that theory is that it will never translate into practice.

    There will always be older men manipulating young girls into sexual encounters. There will always be immature or irresponsible youths looking to do what feels good without second thought. And enforcing the idea of abstinence is proven not to work.

    That’s why sexually-repressive societies lead to fear of sexuality and the attribution of sexual overtones to the most basic provision of care provided to an elderly individual. Ultimately, as a 24yr old adult and nurse, I believe minors (younger than 18 years) should be discouraged from sexual intercourse. But I also believe they need education on all of the facts (contraception, STD/STI prevention, and what constitutes as physical/verbal/emotional/mental/sexual abuse). Treating minors like the adults they want to be will serve the dual purpose of educating them and potentially helping them reconsider their lifetime priorities.

    Wow. I went on a bit of a rant…

    • 16. Penguin  |  February 10, 2015 at 10:43 am

      Hi, why did you write a lot and i liked this book when i read it !!

  • 17. michy  |  February 10, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    I LOVE the drawings and the art work and loved the chapters : >

  • 18. Shelly  |  February 10, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    i love this story especially the book


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