“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” This quote by Marcel Proust speaks of discovering what’s right in front of you by seeing it differently, with “new eyes.” In The Giver, Jonas, the main character goes through the same thing when discovering his “Capacity to See Beyond”. With an awareness and mindfulness that most people lack, Jonas can see his Community in a different way. Mindfulness is in fact one of the central themes in the book. Although the book starts by describing how the Community is a perfect utopia, it later turns out that everyone there is living a fake and superficial life. As Jonas begins his job as the Receiver of Memories, through the wisdom he receives, learns that the Community is missing feelings and emotions that the memories give. In the end, Jonas has a new respect for his way of seeing and chooses to go against the Community to restore mindfulness and memories back to the people.
The people in Jonas’ Community share their feelings after each day in their dwellings. However, these feelings are merely surface feelings by the mindless people going through their fake and superficial days. For example, when Lily expressed anger over the incident at the park with the boy from another community who did not follow the rules, her anger was not truly anger. Instead, Jonas was able to realize that she felt impatient and exasperation and her feelings were calmed after discussing them with her family. Another example, after Jonas received a memory of a family celebrating Christmas, Jonas asked his father, “Do you love me?” His father laughed and was surprised that Jonas would use such a meaningless word. He suggested it would be more appropriate to consider whether he “enjoys” Jonas or takes “pride in his accomplishments” (page 127).
In the beginning of the book, Jonas is like every other person following the rules in the Community. However, when something unexpected happened, like the flashback of the plane flying overhead, Jonas waited for someone to tell him what to do. “Jonas, looking around anxiously, had seen others—adults as well as children—stop what they were doing and wait confused, for an explanation of the frightening event” (page 1). However, as he received memories, learns about color, diversity, and war. From the memory of the red sleigh to the war, Jonas receives memories that give him a different outlook of the way he sees the world. Not just does he take on memories, but feelings such as joy and love, feelings that he had known before becoming the Receiver of Memory. Jonas ends up sharing memories, such as the elephant with Lily and colors with Asher, to give people a new understanding and meaning of the life they live.
Finally, as Jonas grew more and more accustomed to his new way of seeing things, he decided to take it upon himself to restore the memories and mindfulness to the people in the Community he lives in. The thought of this happening only grew inside of him when he whispered to Gabe how different things would be if everyone could see things the he could and knew their grandparents. He told the sleeping new child that everyone could have the memories, and best of all, “There could be love” (pages 128-129). At once, he and The Giver devised a plan to give back the memories to the people, that way everyone have the emotions and feel love and pain, and most importantly so not one person would be the only one to have the memories. Once Jonas found out that Gabe was scheduled to be released, he immediately started with his plan. He stole food and his fathers’ bike, and him and Gabe set off to restore the memories to everyone in the Community.
In the end, it is up to the reader to decide if the Community learned to see themselves and the world through “new eyes”. However, as Jonas comes truly understand the mindfulness that everyone was missing, the reader is left with a new understanding. Mindfulness made Jonas go from a fake life, like the people in the Community, to true love. How can the mindfulness that Jonas found help the reader find the fake or superficial parts in their own lives? How will the reader find a new understanding for the way they see things? And whom will the reader give their new insight too?