The Giver Symbols

Blue Eyes Blue EyesJonas, The Giver, and Gabriel all stand out in the community because of their blue eyes. This difference shows the impossibility of the community’s efforts to control nature completely, no matter how hard it tries. In addition, the fact that only the characters with blue eyes are able to see color (the rest of the community sees only in black and white) and to receive memories and feel true, deep emotion suggests that it is only those who are different who are able to notice the differences in others. •Look for the red text to track where Blue Eyes appears in: Chapter 3, Chapter 8
The snow covered hill The Snow-covered HillThe hill, for Jonas, represents a gateway to Elsewhere. Riding a red sled down the hill is his first memory and his first awareness of the color red. It signifies his realization that outside his community there is a world not dominated by Sameness. Later, Jonas dreams of the hill and feels the need “to reach the something that waited in the distance,” something “good…welcoming… [and] significant.” Yet, through memories of the hill, Jonas learns the precarious relationship between joy and pain; without one, the other cannot exist. Jonas’s first experience with real pain is falling off the same sled that thrilled him only days earlier. •Look for the red text to track where The Snow-covered Hill appears in: Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 23
The River The RiverThe river forms a border of the community before continuing on to Elsewhere. As a border, the river comes to symbolize escape—crossing the river means leaving the community. Because it takes the life of the four-year-old Caleb, the river also symbolizes the danger inherent in that escape. •Look for the red text to track where The River appears in: Chapter 6, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 20, Chapter 21
apple The apple is a symbol of life. It is linked to real emotion, because it is a real color. When Jonas sees the color red for the first time, this is the first time he realizes he is different. It shows he is seperating from the community. As Receiver of Memory, he will begin to learn about emotions. The apple is his window into the world of human experience and emoution( especially temptation. This makes him unique, because no one else in the community feels things—except The Giver. The color red – symbolizes, love and anger.
Animal AnimalsThere are no animals in Jonas’s community, so when Jonas realizes animals do exist, it is a startling revelation. The most important symbol animals represent in this story is the concept of feelings in the Giver. There are two very sad and distressing memories that Jonas receives from the Giver; both involve war and death. The first uses the elephant to evoke feelings of pain in Jonas, and the next is the horse, “its bridle torn and dangling, trotted frantically through the mounds of men, tossing its head, whinnying in panic. It stumbled, finally, then fell, and did not rise” (p. 118). When animals suffer, people can feel their pain and suffering. Animals also are indicators of joy and release, as we see in the final part of the book when Jonas gets to Elsewhere and sees, most importantly, the birds, which represent the freedom of the human spirit. ( elephants- endangered species)
mirrors Mirrors”Mirrors were rare in the community…” Mirrors represent a number of different things. When it comes to this story, mirrors are not used because they are a means to look at ourselves and our behavior; a means to see if what we see is good and actions right—they give us a way to make accurate judgments against the image we see. In this community everyone is the same, and the sameness tends to blur the idea of right and wrong that a mirror put up to the community would reveal.
Names Names are an important part of the book because all names have come from different people, places, or things that have attached stories. A lot of times, the author’s choice of a character’s name can hold symbolic meaning. For example, the name “Jonas” comes from a character in the Old Testament in the Bible where he is swallowed by a leviathan (a whale) because he keeps running away from the truth. He is spit out after three days and three nights and goes on to tell the truth. Jonas’s sister’s name is “Lily,” which is an especially beautiful and sensitive flower, very similar to the character in the story. “Rosemary” is a fragrant herb that is associated with memory, as Shakespeare famously wrote, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance” (Hamlet iv. 5). The herb also has a lot of compounds that make
Bikes BicycleBicycles are the means of transportation, but they also are significant reminders of the growing up process in children. One of the levels we gauge our own growth process is how soon we can crawl, walk, and then ride bikes. It is the same in Jonas’s community where “at Nine [the bicycle] would be the powerful emblem of moving gradually out into the community, away from the protective family unit” (p. 41). It represents independence and the ability to move forward—as we also see in the ending of the book when Jonas uses his father’s bicycle to rescue Gabriel by fleeing to Elsewhere.
Ribbons RibbonsEverybody likes ribbons, but in this story ribbons are another symbolic reminder of the way in which individuality is tied up and sameness promoted. All females under nine must have their hair in ribbons and tied neatly. Lily does not like the ribbons that keep her hair back; they always seem to come untied by the end of the day, and she even gets in trouble for having them that way. Having your hair down is a visual reminder of the individuality and strength of the human spirit, a spirit that is tied back and put away in this colorless community.
dreams Sometimes it is very difficult to understand what dreams mean. In the case of Jonas, he doesn’t dream much, so when he does start dreaming, it is meaningful in the book. His dreaming is the beginning of his growing up process. The growing-up process—also called Stirrings in the book—is a time when young people get ideas that may not go along with the Sameness of the community, so they are given medicine to calm the Stirrings down. Jonas’s Dream is about the rebellion of an Old (a senior) and forecasts the rebellion of his own spirit when he will learn the truth in the future. In stories, the dream has functioned as a way to foretell the future for thousands of years.

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