Characters: The Giver

A listing of characters who appear in Lois Lowry's The Giver Quartet, consisting of The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

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    The Giver 

Jonas

The main protagonist of The Giver and supporting character in Messenger and Son. At the onset of the first book twelve-year-old Jonas is selected to become the next Receiver of Memory, who stores all the memories of the time before Sameness so they can aid the Community in making decisions the Elders lack the experience to make. As Jonas receives memories of beautiful things such as sunshine, love, and family, as well as terrible things like war and starvation, the more horrified he becomes at how emotionally sterile the community has to be in order to function at all, and he and the Giver set out to change things.

Played by Brenton Thwaites in the 2014 film.

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: He has brown eyes in the film, instead of blue eyes like in the book.
  • Age Lift: He was eleven going on twelve in the book, but has been aged up to sixteen for the movie.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Despite his growing disillusionment with his Community, it's not until he learns that Gabe is going to be killed that he decides to leave.
  • Big Brother Is Employing You: He is being trained to take a role in perpetuating the dystopia they all live in.
  • The Cameo: In Gathering Blue, Matt describes a boy with "amazing blue eyes."
  • The Chosen One: He is chosen by his society to be the new Receiver of Memory, a very revered position. Halfway through the book he decides that pulling a Screw Destiny will work for the better of society in the long run.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Like most people in his community, Jonas takes things that would be downright horrifying to many people as normal — although once he receives memories of better times, he realizes how horrible the Community is to make its residents live this way.
  • Crapsack Only by Comparison: Inverted. At first he thinks that he's in a utopia, but it's actually more of a Crapsack World.
  • Erotic Dream: His dream of his "favorite female friend," Fiona, which prompts his mother to start giving him the pills.
  • First Snow: He is very confused upon seeing snow for the first time (because he's used to total climate control).
  • Heroes Want Redheads: He has his Stirrings for Fiona, who has red hair. He ends up with the dark-haired Kira, though.
  • Inferred Survival: It's strongly hinted in Messenger that Leader is Jonas: the mentions of his blue eyes, his sister, and Fiona, the sled makes an appearance, and that he first discovered his powers via an apple.
  • Living Is More Than Surviving: He comes to realize that the community gave up genuine emotion and humanity for an emotionally sterile, functional utopia.
  • Meaningful Name: "Jonas" is a variant form of the Hebrew name "Jonah". Much like the prophet Jonah in The Bible, Jonas (who's arguably a "prophet" in his own way) is a Chosen One selected by his rulers to receive great messages, and he ultimately decides to elude his destiny by running away and starting a new life somewhere else.
  • Mentor's New Hope: The Receiver of Knowledge who mentors Jonas is revealed to have had another protege in the past, hinted to have been his own biological daughter (in their society, children are assigned to parents other than their birthmothers), who committed suicide out of despair brought on by the knowledge she received from her mentor, and was unpersoned by the Community.
  • Nice Guy: Intuitive, understanding, sensitive, kind, well-meaning, polite, and wanting to do what's best for the Community.
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Has blue eyes, which are very rare in the community, and is a sign that he is capable of "seeing beyond".
  • Official Couple: By Son, he and Kira have two children together.
  • Only One Name: Justified, since he and the rest of the Community are raised by adoptive parents assigned by the government, and have no reason to carry family names.
  • Parental Substitute: He becomes protective of Gabriel, and when they reappear in Son they have a dynamic sort of like this, although Jonas notes he could never have been a true parent to him.
  • Rite of Passage: Getting assigned a job is an important rite that determines the rest of a person's life; being assigned the unusual job of Receiver is what marks Jonas as special in the community.
  • Splash of Color: In-universe. He first starts seeing color by noticing red for the first time, when everyone else is unable to see anything other than black and white.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: He grows up in a false Utopian society where the word "love" has become obsolete. When he learns about it through memories received from the Giver and asks his parents if they love him, they admonish him for not using precise language and say that asking "Do you enjoy me?" or "Do you take pride in my accomplishments?" would have been better. What makes it better is that they actually laugh and treat the question as meaningless. Jonas can't help but think that what he felt earlier was anything but meaningless. He realizes that further questions would also be met with either ignorance or programmed responses.

The Giver

The current Receiver Of Memory, who selects Jonas to become his replacement, a lonely, isolated man who carries all the memories of the time before Sameness. He considers them a burden, but cares deeply about Jonas and the Community and looks out for their best interests.

Played by Jeff Bridges in the 2014 film.

  • Cast from Lifespan: He mentions that using his memory-absorbing power has "aged" him; though it isn't clear whether it has actually shortened his life, or if he just looks much older than he really is.
  • Character Title: The titular "Giver" of the novel, although his real title is Receiver.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: His real name is never revealed and he is always just called "Giver" by Jonas and "Receiver" by other characters.
  • The Good Chancellor: His role in the Community is to advise them well based on the memories he's received.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: After the startling failure of the previous Receiver-in-training, he is determined to do right by Jonas.
  • No Name Given: His real name is never revealed.
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Has blue eyes, which are very rare in the community, and is a sign that he is capable of "seeing beyond".
  • Passing the Torch: An essential part of his relationship with Jonas. Jonas accepts the job as the Receiver with the understanding that he will eventually become the next Giver, with the task of passing on the accumulated memories to the next Receiver.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In the film adaptation, he stalls the Chief Elder long enough to prevent Fiona's execution.
  • Younger Than They Look: While it's unclear how old he actually is, it's (very briefly) mentioned that the stress of keeping all the memories is part of the reason he looks so old.

Asher

Jonas's best friend, a cheerful boy whose main concern is having fun — as such, he's assigned to become the next Assistant Director of Recreation. Although their friendship is genuine, the knowledge Jonas has to bear puts a strain on their friendship.

Played by Cameron Monaghan in the 2014 film.

  • Adaptation Personality Change: He is consistently happy and cheerful throughout the book (where he's assigned a recreational position), while in the film he starts off that way but becomes more serious and unsmiling after being assigned drone pilot.
  • Age Lift: He was eleven going on twelve in the book, but has been aged up to sixteen for the movie.
  • Ascended Extra: To an extent, he just...stopped appearing in the narration after a certain point in the book, but has far more to do in the film.
  • Corporal Punishment: As a three, he asked for a "smack" instead of a "snack" when he was hungry and was hit so often with the stick that his legs had marks and he went silent for a time. The Chief Elder remembered this fondly.
  • Meaningful Name: "Asher" means "happy." Not so much in the film, where he's a serious, unsmiling busybody.
  • Only One Name: Justified, since he and the rest of the Community are raised by adoptive parents assigned by the government, and have no reason to carry family names.

Fiona

Jonas's closest female friend, a kind and gentle girl who is assigned to care for the people at the House of the Old.

Played by Odeya Rush in the 2014 film.

  • Age Lift: She was eleven going on twelve in the book, but has been aged up to sixteen for the movie.
  • Ascended Extra: To an extent, she just...stopped appearing in the narration after a certain point in the book, but has far more to do in the film.
  • Damsel in Distress: During the climax of the film adaptation, in which she's sentenced to Release for her role in helping Jonas escape.
  • Fiery Redhead: Inverted. She is said to be calm and serene from Jonas.
  • Meaningful Name: Fiona is an Irish name; although ethnic names of all types appear in "the community," Fiona is the only person with red hair, a feature the Irish are known for.
  • Nice Girl: She's caring and considerate, which makes her a good fit for the job of caring for old people. Although her job of "releasing" old people is not so nice, although she doesn't understand the implications of such an act.
  • Only One Name: Justified, since she and the rest of the Community are raised by adoptive parents assigned by the government, and have no reason to carry family names.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: In the book, she is a good friend of Jonas's whom he eventually drifts apart from (although he's definitely interested in her). In the film he manages to convince her to stop taking the injections and she realizes she loves him as well. She eventually aids in his escape and he promises her he'd come back for her.

Rosemary

The previous Receiver-in-training. When she failed in her duties, the Community had to absorb the horrifying memories she'd received. Determined not to let this happen again, she was unpersoned by the Community and took great pains in choosing Jonas to be Rosemary's successor.

Played by Taylor Swift in the 2014 film.

  • Driven to Suicide: She couldn't take the horrors of the memories she received, and applied for Release, which, unknown to most of the characters, is a lethal injection. And she knew exactly what it was—she asked to perform the Release herself. This prompted the community to add a new rule, in that future Receivers of Memory cannot ask to be released.
  • Meaningful Name: Rosemary (which stands for remembrance, according to Ophelia in Hamlet). Her name will never be used again after her death forced the community to remember the vivid emotions they have left behind.
  • Posthumous Character: Her suicide took place years before the story starts.
  • Unperson: The story's dystopian society has removed her from the public memory, going as far as to forbid her name to be used for a new child ever again, after the memories she received dissipated out into the community when she applied for release (assisted suicide, and she knew what it was) and the members of the community had to feel emotion and pain for the first time.

Gabe

A newchild informally adopted by Jonas's family due to his slightly stunted development. He and Jonas form a strong bond, especially after Jonas realizes that he can Receive memories as well.

Chief Elder

Leader of The Community. Is the speaker at all of the ceremonies in The Community as well.

Played by Meryl Streep in the 2014 film.

Jonas' family

Jonas's family, consisting of his parents and little sister, Lily — although like the rest of the family units, none of them are biologically related. Like the rest of the Community, they are Conditioned to Accept Horror and remain oblivious to Jonas's increasing distance.

Played by Alexander Skarsgård (Jonas's father), Katie Holmes (Jonas's mother), and Emma Tremblay (Lily) in the 2014 film.

  • Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage: Like all couples in the Communtiy, they are arranged this way, so that they complement each other and work well together, though it's still loveless and sexless.
  • Broken Pedestal: Jonas's parents are this to Jonas. It's especially so for the father after Jonas saw a recording of the former "releasing" a twin baby. In the sequels Jonas does not even refer to them as his parents anymore, instead calling them "the people who raised him."
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: People who work with the very young or the old are conditioned to accept euthanasia as a fact of life, starting from their early adolescence. This includes Jonas's father, who nonchalantly euthanizes a baby.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In the film adaptation, Jonas's father realizes that he had been committing institutionalized murder with each Release all along as the memories return to the Community.
  • Nice Guy: Claire singles out Jonas's father as being especially kind and friendly.
  • Nuclear Family: Minus the dog, as pets don't exist in the Community. Invoked by the Community, as all families are intentionally set up like this.
  • Sexless Marriage: Like every other marriage in the Community, their's is this, since sexual desires are suppressed by pills.
  • Unnamed Parent: Both of Jonas's parents are unnamed.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: When Jonas asks them if they love him, they admonish him for not using precise language and say that asking "Do you enjoy me?" or "Do you take pride in my accomplishments?" would have been better. What makes it better is that they actually laugh and treat the question as meaningless.

    Gathering Blue 

Kira

The main character of Gathering Blue and supporting character in Messenger and Son. Born with a deformed leg, Kira is ostracized by members of her community and would have been put to death at birth had it not been for her mother's intervention. Upon her mother's death she is nearly sentenced to die, but is instead singled out for her exceptional weaving skills and is chosen to be the Threader, the person who will embroider the Singer's robe with the history of their people.

  • The Chosen One: Along with Thomas and Jo, she's chosen by the council to pass on the history of human civilization.
  • Cool Big Sis: To Matty. She teaches him manners.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: In a way, to Jonas — while Jonas is from a futuristic society, able-bodied, had been treated well since birth, and male, Kira is from a backwater village, disabled, ostracized because of it, and female. However, they're both determined young people burdened to pass on the history of human civilization. Jonas eventually has to make a sacrifice by leaving his community and Kira makes a sacrifice by staying in hers, for the betterment of both. Also, they end up together.
  • Dead Guy Junior: In Son, her and Jonas's son is named Matthew for Matty and their daughter is named Annabelle for Annabella.
  • Disabled Love Interest: To Jonas. Unlike most examples, it's pretty permanent.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: How her gift manifests itself — visions of the future appear in her embroidery.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness
  • Insecure Love Interest: Downplayed in Son, in which she's still insecure about her deformed leg even after two children with Jonas.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: She's been crippled since birth, but since her mother's death, her weaving and embroidery skills keep her from being killed by the council, and she later rises above those who scorn her.
  • Loose Lips: Mentioning to Jamison that Annabella knows there are no beasts in the woods gets Annabella killed.
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Has the blue eyes linked to "seeing beyond."
  • Psychic Powers: It's implied her prodigious talent at embroidery is somewhat psychic in origin. This is elaborated on in Messenger, where she's now able to see temporary visions of the future in her work.
  • Supreme Chef: It's mentioned in Son that she's an exceptional cook.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Her job is to embroider the Singer's robe while Thomas's is to carve the Singer's staff.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: With Thomas and Matt.

Matty

Supporting character in Gathering Blue and protagonist of Messenger. Matt is a tyke from the Fen, a swampy region with strange customs and an odd way of speaking. He is at first Kira's only friend and acts as a sidekick of sorts to her. By Messenger, he's been adopted by Christopher and has taken on the name "Matty."

  • Big Brother Mentor: To Gabe. It's mentioned in Son that Gabe really admired and looked up to him.
  • A Boy and His X: His dogs Branchie and Frolic.
  • Courier: Matty craves the admiration and prestige of being the village's Messenger.
  • Happily Adopted: In Messenger, he is now Seer / Christopher's adopted son.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Essentially sacrifices himself to heal the world.
  • Like Brother and Sister: He and Kira have this dynamic; she acts as the Cool Big Sis to his Tagalong Kid. Solidified when Christopher adopts him.
  • Hates Baths: Due to growing up in the Fen, he's never without layers of dirt. He hates it when Thomas forcibly bathes him.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: He forms a strong attachment to Branchie and is devastated when he dies. He later adopts Frolic and loves him just as easily.
  • Messianic Archetype: He sacrifices himself so that the residents of Village can find the good in themselves again. It's outright stated in Son that the villagers found ways to become worthy of his sacrifice.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Branchie in Gathering Blue and Frolic in Messenger after the former's death.
  • Only Friend: After Kira's mother's death, he's at first the only person willing to interact with her.
  • The Pig Pen: Kira often describes him as filthy. He cleans up by Messenger.
  • Sidekick: To Kira at first, although he graduates to full-on Hero in Messenger.
  • Tagalong Kid: To Kira in Gathering Blue, where he's her eight-year-old sidekick.
  • World-Healing Wave: At the end of Messenger - effectively healing the world of all evil, but effectively taking his life in the process.

Annabella

An old woman skilled in the art of dyeing threads who teaches Kira the skill.

  • Cool Old Lady: Age hasn't diminished her talent with plants at all.
  • He Knows Too Much: It's heavily implied the Council killed her for knowing that the "beasts" were just them manipulating the residents.
  • The Mentor: She teaches Kira everything she knows about making dyes — not with weaving and embroidery, however, as she notes she never had the talent. That comes from Kira's mother and Kira's own innate talent.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: She's offed when Kira tells the Council that Annabella knows there are no beasts.

Katrina

Kira's kind mother, who died of an unspecified illness prior to Gathering Blue.

Christopher/Seer

Kira's Disappeared Dad. Before his reappearance in Gathering Blue all that was known of him was that he was taken by beasts. In Messenger it's revealed that in the interim he'd found himself a new home in Village, where he serves as a source of guidance to its residents.

  • Disappeared Dad: To Kira, although they end up reuniting.
  • Killed Offscreen: Dies between Messenger and Son.
  • Parental Substitute: He becomes one to Matty — the boy ends up being his eyes while he serves as a much-needed parental influence.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Like the Giver, he's a wise old man who's experienced extremely trying times and serves as a source of wisdom to his community. Both of them also lost their daughters (although Kira and Seer reunite) and take gifted young boys under their wing.

Jamison

One of the Guardians, a group of wise old men who rule over Kira's village and oversee all decision-making. He is appointed as Kira's defender during her trial and later oversees her duties as the Threader.

  • Cool Old Guy: A renowned hunter and respected Guardian.
  • Evil All Along
  • Green-Eyed Monster: He was jealous of the power and influence Christopher wielded and set him up to die for it.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He defends Kira at her trial in order to gain her trust so she wouldn't suspect she was being used for her gift.
  • Karma Houdini: Although we see in Messenger that Kira's village has gotten better in some aspects, we don't see any direct comeuppance Jamison gets.
  • Treacherous Advisor

Thomas

The Carver, a boy Kira's age singled out by the Guardians for his amazing woodcarving skills (much like Kira). His job is to carve the Singer's staff with key events so the Singer would not forget their place in the Song.

  • Birds of a Feather: He and Kira bond thanks to their similar experiences and circumstances.
  • The Chosen One: By the Council, to carve the Singer's staff.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: He was taken in by the Council and his gifts were nurtured by them after his parents were killed in a lightning storm. Both of them. At the same time. A little too convenient...
  • Nice Guy: He helps Kira adjust to her new way of living.
  • Ship Tease: With Kira, with whom he quickly bonds with, but they end up married to different people.

Jo

A little girl from the Fen in training to become the next Singer. Unlike Thomas and Kira's relative freedom, the Guardians are cruel to her.

     Messenger 

Leader

The young and powerful leader of Village.

  • Big Good: One of the most moral, well-intentioned people in Village and also its leader.
  • The Faceless: His appearance is not described. In the fourth and final book, Son, it's outright stated that he and Jonas are the same person.
  • The Leader: Of his community.
  • I Know Your True Name: His psychic powers allow him to sense a person's true name and purpose.
  • Psychic Powers: He "sees beyond," and uses this power to watch over Village.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure
  • Ship Tease: Done rather subtly with Kira. When he first sees Kira, he describes her as being beautiful. By Son, they have two kids together.
  • Young and in Charge: It's pointed out that he's much younger than plenty of the people he leads, but is in such a position because of the wisdom brought about by his Psychic Powers.

Trademaster

The antagonist of Messenger and Son, a mysterious man with the power to grant your wishes at a high price.

  • Big Bad: The instigator of the main problems in Messenger and Son.
  • Dark Is Evil: Dark hair, dark outfit, dark outcomes to his wishes...
  • Deal with the Devil: His whole schtick. He'll give you what you want, but his prices require you to trade away the best part of yourself — for example, it's implied Ramon's mother traded her children's health for a Gaming Machine. But refuse to trade with him and it's possible you'll be even worse off than when you started — he cripples Einar for being proud enough to refuse his help.
  • The Dreaded: To the people in the Village after the events of Messenger.
  • Emotion Eater: It's suggested that selfishness, and the chaos and destruction it causes, feed him in some way.
  • I Shall Taunt You: He gives a big speech out of all the chaos he's caused to Gabe in an attempt to unnerve him.
  • Made of Evil: According to Leader, he's pure evil. Gabe describes him as a force disguised as a man.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Claire describes him as surprisingly well-dressed.

     Son 

Claire

Claire is a girl from the Community three years ahead of Jonas, whose disastrous first birth (by C-section) terminates her assignment as Birthmother and gets her reassigned to Fish Hatchery. However, thanks to a slip-up by one of the handlers, she can't stop thinking about her son, Number Thirty-Six: whom the readers know as Gabriel. Overwhelmed with love and grief — feelings she's kept bottled up due to them being forbidden — after Jonas takes Gabe on his escape to Elsewhere, she ends up amnesiac and living with a caring seaside community. As her memories slowly return, she knows she has one goal — to find her son.

  • Defiled Forever: Few people in her new home want anything to do with her after her Teen Pregnancy is discovered.
  • The Determinator: She won't give up on finding her son, even if it means scaling the terrifying cliffs that prevent escape or having to watch him from afar as he won't believe her story due to her Rapid Aging.
  • Easy Amnesia: When Claire wakes up from her shipwreck she can remember her name, but not much else. Her memories begin to come back, although the residents are astounded that things like colors and animals seem completely new to her.
  • Meaningful Name: "Claire" means "clear," as in the horrors of her society becoming clear to her.
  • Missing Mom: To Gabe. Unlike most examples, she takes an active role in searching for her son.
  • Mysterious Waif: She's this to the seaside community who take her in, as she's young, amnesiac, talks "elegantly" compared to the way the others speak, and is almost childlike in her ignorance of common knowledge such as animals and colors. Of course, to those familiar with the world of The Giver, this is not her own fault.
  • Rapid Aging: Trademaster's bargain for remembering her son is taking her youth, rendering her as an old woman. She gets better.
  • Red-Headed Heroine: Of Son. Her hair is described as coppery and red-gold.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Her eyes are described as green.
  • Teen Pregnancy: She gave birth at fourteen, not that this is unusual for the Community — but it's definitely unusual for the people who take her in, and she's ostracized a little once the knowledge is out.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: She performs some pretty amazing things in the name of finding Gabe but retains a fear of water after nearly drowning in the sea.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Birthmothers are kept off the "pills" that keep deeper feelings in line in order to keep their hormones and such functioning. When Claire is reassigned nobody tells her to start taking them again, so she doesn't. This results in her feeling love for Gabe. Too bad nobody can relate to it. After her memories are wiped she begins to adjust to it.

Alys

The old woman who takes Claire in.

Einar

Once called Fierce Einar due to his rebelliousness, he was the first to climb out of the cliffs that isolate their community — but fell down just as quickly due to an injury he refuses to talk about. Having been dubbed Lame Einar, he now tends the sheep.

  • Disabled Love Interest: To Claire. Despite his needing a cane to walk they easily bond, and Einar teaches her how to climb. They do not, however, end up together, as Claire eventually moves on to Village, in order to find Gabe.
  • Fingore: Trademaster cut off half his foot for being too proud to trade.
  • What Could Have Been: In-Universe. Claire as an old woman frequently wonders what would have happened if she'd just stayed and married Einar.

Alternative Title(s):

Gathering Blue, Son

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