Individual characteristic or personality is defined as the quality or feature typical of someone and serves to identify or distinguish them from others. In the dystopian novel “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, we are introduced to Jonas, the main eleven-year-old protagonist living in a futuristic society that has eliminated all pain, fear, war, choice, emotion, and hatred. Jonas is selected as the next Receiver of the community’s memory of past generations before the community was created.
Caring and loving. Just like his father, who has a nurturing ability for the children, Jonas also has nurturing abilities accompanied by love and caring. This is portrayed when his father decides to temporarily take in Gabriel and asks his parents to let Gabriel spend the night with him so that he can share responsibility with him (Lowry). He transmits the memory of sailing to Gabriel at night to stop crying and sleep. Jonas shows love for the people in the community when he suggests that he and the Giver apply for a change of rules to do away with the sameness. He plans to flee the community with Gabriel so that he can release all the memories to the people to launch a full-blown rebellion against the community rules.
Courageous, brave and strong. Courage is the ability to be ready and willing to face a negative situation that involves danger and pain. Jonas shows courage in many instances in the novel. Jonas first shows courage when he accepts to be assigned as a new Receiver of Memory, an assignment that comes with pain and suffering through memories. He showed courage throughout the training despite the pain imposed on him by the Giver. He did not like the memory of people hunting an elephant, he felt pain and fire burning his leg when the sled tipped over, but he kept going. Lowry explained that sometimes Jonas would be sent away if the
The Giver was feeling pain, but even after the memory of the sled and fire, he was still courageous. Jonas is brave. He demonstrated this during the 12 ceremonies when the Chief Elder listed the traits Jonas needed to have; she says that the Giver reminded her that courage is one of the requirements. The Receiver himself could not describe it, only to remind us that immense courage is required to face the memories. Jonas also showed courage when he decided to leave his family to protect Gabriel. He believes it is better to have freedom of choice, family, and love rather than sacrifice these things for equality and safety. Therefore, he courageously flees the community in chapter 21. Jonas was supposed to get a memory that would teach him courage but seeing Gabriel’s life in danger; he leaves without it.
Jonas also demonstrates courage when he decides to break the community’s rules that only affect himself. At first, Jonas takes the apple home to examine it after he has noticed the apple change in a way he could not describe (Lowry, 29). He also makes a larger choice of fleeing away to try to change the community. He knew the consequence of this act that would cut him off from the community, but still, he was courageous to flee.
Wise, intelligent, and integrity. Wisdom has the experience, knowledge, and good judgment in decision-making. Jonas is a wise young man who demonstrates wisdom through his experience and the memories he receives from the Giver. These memories change Jonas’s life completely and force him into a sense of separation from his family and community while imparting his knowledge that is far more diverse thanthan other peers.
He also demonstrates wisdom by realizing the negative impact of sameness in the community. He realizes what the community is missing through the memories he gains of family, love, and choice and decides to flee to restore what the community is missing. Jonas shows wisdom when he starts seeing beyond. Seeing beyond is metaphorically used to represent that Jonas can see colors and gain wisdom through training. He again shows wisdom by noticing that Fiona’s hair is red. In chapter 12, he asks the Giver if he will eventually see all the colors. The Giver responds by saying, “of course. When you receive the memories. You have the capacity to see beyond. You will gain wisdom, then along with colors. And lots more” (Lowry, 95). The Giver’s answer indicates that wisdom is gained receipt of memories as well as seeing beyond. The memories give Jonas knowledge concerning causes and effects. Through the knowledge and experiences in his memory, he can access the wisdom that the community lacks.
He again shows how wise he is by stopping taking the pills. Jonas stops taking the pills to experience the feeling of wanting something, not because he wants to start a sexual relationship. He wants to feel capable of making personal choices, and he wants to want things.
Intelligence is indicating or having a high degree of intelligence. During the training period, when Jonas receives knowledge and wisdom, he starts to use his intelligence to put the puzzle pieces of history together. He discovered that the freedom to make personal choices had been sacrificed for sameness; he says, “If everything is the same, then there are no choices! I want to wake up in the morning and decide things! A blue tunic, or a red on?” (Lowry, 97). This is an intelligent observation that shows that Jonas can use his brain when given new information. He was able to take the fact that the community is not allowed to see colors and applies it to his daily life. Not many people can do that.
Jonas also demonstrates intelligence by exercising perspective and understanding of his cultural community and providing him with the means to challenge its warped moral values. He is intelligent enough to analyze the perfect word to describe his complicated feeling at a young age. He is self-aware and fully understands the importance of conforming to the community’s restrictive culture. Another instance where Jonas demonstrates intelligence is when he realizes something is strange when he perceives a change in an apple while playing catch with Asher. He again shows intelligence during the December Ceremony when the Chief Elder skips his name; Jonas immediately realizes something is wrong, and he feels embarrassed for being distinguished from his peers.
Integrity is the act and quality of honesty and strong moral principles. Jonas demonstrated integrity by taking responsibility for his action after he took the apple home from the recreation area. A public announcement is made to remind him that it is forbidden to take food home. He takes responsibility by going to apologize to the Recreation Director the next day. He again exercises integrity by revealing the stirring dream he experienced with Fiona and also sharing his feelings about the upcoming December Ceremony with his parents. Jonas also shows integrity when he learns the meaning of “Release.” When someone is “released” from the community, they are killed through the injection of a deadly chemical, and the perception of Elsewhere, the place where released people go, is not real. Rather than allow innocent people to be euthanized consistently, he exercises integrity by making a difficult decision to save his community from the culture.
Curiosity. Curiosity is one of Jonas’s character traits, which leads to troubling discoveries throughout the novel. Jonas demonstrated curiosity during a flashback when an airplane had flown over his community. He thinks, “At first, he had been only fascinated. He had never seen an airplane so close for it was against the community rules for pilots to fly over the community.” This show indicates that Jonas is curious about the airplane and all that it means. Again, Jonas shows his curiosity during the training when he receives a foreign memory of the sled and hills. He curiously asks the Giver, “Why don’t we have snow, and sleds, and hills?” (Lowry, 83). This proves that Jonas is curious to know why such things are not found in the community. Jonas is also curious to know why the elders would want to take away the extraordinary emotions and senses he felt in the memories. The feeling of the warmth of the sun, the joy of sledding, and the love of family. He is curious to know what his parents feel for him, so he asks his parents if they love him, but they say love is a meaningless word; instead, they enjoy him.
In conclusion, Jonas’s characteristic traits, strong moral values, and the training sessions help him to realize what other people are missing and change his outlook on life from the dictatorship, alien point sameness that he thought was normal to the uncorrupt that is now the present.
Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Ernst Klett Sprachen, 1998.