The Giver
Age Unknown
Gender Male
Alias The Giver
Hair White (novel)
Grey/White (movie)
Given job Receiver of Memory
Giver of Memory
Allies Jonas,
Rosemary (daughter)
Enemies The Community,
Chief Elder (in the movie)
Fate Unknown
Appearances The Giver
Mentioned Son
Portrayed by Jeff Bridges

The Giver is the alias one of the main characters of the novel of the same name. His real name is unknown and he is formally recognized as the Receiver of Memory. He is depicted as an aging Elder, often considered the most important on the Committee due to his responsibilities, but in reality doesn't hold much power. Throughout the book, he trains Jonas first to become the next Receiver, but both later plan for him to escape the Community in order to restore memories to the whole populace while the Giver remains behind to help the people cope with their newfound emotions. He has one daughter, Rosemary, who was selected to be his successive Receiver of Memory but was Released at her own request due to the painful memories passed down to her.


Early Life

The Giver was given an unmentioned name at birth after being carried to term by a Birthmother, and subsequently assigned to a family unit. As a child, he was introduced to the various rules and customs that governed the Community under sameness and chastised at school if he broke them. He possessed the rare trait of pale eyes, as well as the ability to See Beyond and observe things differently. At the Ceremony of Twelve, he was assigned to be the next Receiver of Memory and was trained by the then-current one to inherit memories from the past.

He would later describe this as a difficult process for him to bear as, little by little, he became the carrier of the collective memories of the (known) history of humanity. During this time, the Giver also would become aware of the true nature of Release, as well as knowledge regarding the principle of Sameness that guided the Community. Eventually, the previous Receiver was relocated to the House of Old and eventually released, leaving the Giver the sole bearer of memories and was occasionally called upon by the Comittee of Elders. His duties extended to all surrounding communities governed by the principle of Sameness, but never ventured Elsewhere.

At some point, the Giver presumably applied for a spouse and formed a parental unit with an assigned female, Rosemary. They both shared the trait of pale eyes. The Giver loved Rosemary as a true father due to his capacity of emotion, and she was later selected to be the next Receiver of Memory. However, he introduced painful memories too soon, which caused a great strain on Rosemary who was eventually driven to apply for Release due to the traumatic burden. This caused Giver a terrible grief and pain, whose separation from the Community only depended as he was the only one to experience mourning. After her death, the memories she has received flowed back into the minds of everyone in the Community, creating a state of chaos that was later carefully managed and restored, but Rosemary's name was disgraced. In the years that followed, he assisted in the possibility of selecting Jonas as his successor while the Elders conducted their observations.

The Giver

At the time of the start of the book, the Giver was regarded as a mysterious but prestigious figure within the Community, part of the Committee of Elders yet separate from the rest. The reality of his position was not known, but it was one that recognized great honor. At the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas was selected to be the next Receiver, sharing the traits of pale eyes as well as the ability to See Beyond.

The Giver began to introduce Jonas to various memories of the past, starting out with simple ones, such as memories of snow, sunshine, and heat, eventually gravitating toward more intense emotions such as pain, starvation, contentment, war, and love. The Giver began to teach Jonas about generations past, as well as the concept of Sameness and how it affected the Community through devices such as climate control, the suppression of emotion, and loss of freedom.

As time passed, Jonas grew more and more frustrated with the separation between him and his friends, caused by the individual experience of memories, which the Giver empathized with. He reminded Jonas that it was not their fault that they did not share memories and lacked emotions, because it was simply all they knew, much as Jonas had before his selection. Jonas' increasing curiosity surrounding the principle of release, due to his father's profession, lead the Giver to reveal to him what true release was. He also explained that Rosemary, Jonas' predecessor had been willfully released due to her painful experiences. This lead to his breaking point, at which the Giver decided they were to enact a plan to restore the memories to the communities and eradicate sameness forever. He assured him of their plan and affirmed his love for Jonas, and revealed that Rosemary had in fact, been his daughter.

They plotted to have Jonas escape on the day of the Ceremonies; however, since Jonas' visiting newchild, Gabriel, was due for release, he was forced to flee with him early without provisions, leaving the Giver behind. Once Jonas succeeded in reaching the border and had ventured Elsewhere, presumably to the Village, the memories were released into the communities and the Giver advised in managing and reforming the now-feeling and remembering society.


The fate of the community is mentioned by Jonas, then known as Leader, when spoken to Matty about the fate of his former family. He reveals that after a few years, the communities had sent the Giver's collection of books to his village, a sign that he knew meant things had definitively changed and his plan had worked. It is unknown if the books were sent back willfully, or if their custodian, the Giver, had passed, which prompted them to be sent to Jonas.


The Giver has spent most of his life inside his own quarters in the Annex, eating his meals, and emerging occasionally to take long walks. He has felt the desires, triumphs, and failures of millions of men and woman. He preserves those memories and using the wisdom they give him, to make decisions for the community. He would at times feel weighed down by this responsibility, and because the Giver is forbidden to share his knowledge with anyone else. Thus, the Giver has become a patient, quiet, and deliberate person, growing resigned to the fact that he cannot change the community even though it needs to be changed. He endures his loneliness and frustration as well as the increasing physical pain that the memories bring him. His quiet and calm demeanor, make him a rather stoic figure. The Giver's patience, wisdom, and restraint make him an excellent teacher and mentor.

The Giver - I love you Jonas

The Giver

However, the memories that the Giver carries inside him are too powerful for him to be entirely stoic. He still feels strong emotions, and under the right circumstances they surge to the surface. Among the members of the community, the Giver alone is the only person capable of real love, an emotion he experiences with Rosemary, a child who was designated to be the Receiver. Years of loneliness, isolation, and unshared emotion made the Giver’s love for Rosemary intense, even by the standards of the time before Sameness, and when she is taken from him, his anger and grief are equally intense. It is this anger and grief, fueled by the Giver’s growing love for Jonas and Jonas’s own youthful energy, that allow the Giver to finally overturn his years of silence and endurance and change the community. The decision is also influenced by the Giver’s aptitude as a teacher and adviser. It is natural for him to want to help the community learn to handle the memories.

Physical Description

In the book, the Giver is described as a 'bearded man with pale eyes,' who observes things with an intense gaze. The Giver appears to be aged and occasionally pale when in the throes of his memories, and mentions that the stress of his job has taken a toll on him, that he looks older than he appears but still possess a great deal of time left. He is also mentioned to sit separately and slightly awkwardly against the Committee of Elders when appearing with them publicly.



In both the book and the film, Jonas is presented as the Giver's protegee and later son-like figure as their bond develops during the sharing of memories and emotions. At first, Jonas makes an effort to show a great degree of respect to the Giver, given his position, but is soon surprised by the Giver's flagrance for the rules and apparent disregard of the Community's values. He soon grows to understand the Giver's position when he experiences memories of both pain and joy alike, as well as empathizing with the Giver when he suffers from overwhelming emotions.The Giver is noted to be merciful and kind, as well as very honest toward him, admitting that he had never lied, although it is within his power to do so. He also displays the true nature of release when asked, then comforts him and comes up with a plan to save the communities at his behest. At the end of the book, he confesses that he loves Jonas as he loved his daughter, which Jonas reciprocates.


The Giver was assigned a female as part of a family unit, who was given the name Rosemary. She also shared the trait of pale eyes, as well as a capacity to See Beyond as she grew older. The Giver loved her as his daughter, to the depth of a parent rather then an assigned family unit member. Rosemary was eventually selected to be the next Receiver-in-Training, which worried the Giver due to the amount of pain it would cause his child. The Giver noted that he admired her smile and laughter, and made an effort to give her joyful experiences for as long as he could. Eventually, he was forced to share with her darker, more emotionally isolated and painful memories, which caused her personality and demeanor to change. Eventually, she grew overwhelmed with the trauma and burden, which caused her to apply for release and willfully injected the needle herself. This caused the Giver great pain, and later he would state that he looked forward to when he would join her.

Chief Elder

In the movie version, the Chief Elder is presented as being the Giver's primary nemesis in changing the community and protest regarding principles of Sameness and order. She tries multiple times to thwart his plans and questions him throughly, but is eventually unable to stop the process of memories being returned to the community.

Film Adaptation

In the film adaptation, The Giver is portrayed by Jeff Bridges, who also produced the film.