Frightened meant that deep, sickening feeling of something terrible about to happen.
His feelings were too complicated this evening. He wanted to share them, but he wasn't eager to begin the process of sifting through his own complicated emotions, even with the help that he knew his parents could give.
I feel sorry for anyone who is in a place where he feels strange and stupid.
No one mentioned such things; it was not a rule, but was considered rude to call attention to things that were unsettling or different about individuals.
Better to steer clear of an occasion governed by a rule which would be so easy to break.
It didn't worry him. How could someone not fit in? The community was so meticulously ordered, the choices so carefully made.
But at the same time he was filled with fear. He did not know what his selection meant. He did not know what he was to become. Or what would become of him.
His mind reeled. Now, empowered to ask questions of utmost rudeness-and promised answers-he could, conceivably (though it was almost unimaginable), ask someone, some adult, his father perhaps: "Do you lie?" But he would have no way of knowing if the answer he received was true.
The Old were always given the highest respect.
There's much more. There's all that goes beyond—all that is Elsewhere—and all that goes back, and back, and back. I received all of those, when I was selected. And here in this room, all alone, I re-experience them again and again. It is how wisdom comes. And how we shape our future.
"Honor," he said firmly. "I have great honor. So will you. But you will find that is not the same as power."
He was left, upon awakening, with the feeling that he wanted, even somehow needed, to reach the something that waited in the distance. The feeling that it was good. That it was welcoming. That it was significant.
We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.
If everything's the same, then there aren't any choices! I want to wake up in the morning and decide things!
It's the choosing that's important, isn't it?
Now he saw another elephant emerge from the place where it had stood hidden in the trees. Very slowly it walked to the mutilated body and looked down. With its sinuous trunk it struck the huge corpse; then it reached up, broke some leafy branches with a snap, and draped them over the mass of torn thick flesh. Finally it tilted its massive head, raised its trunk, and roared into the empty landscape.
"My Instructors in science and technology have taught us about how the brain works," Jonas told him eagerly. "It's full of electrical impulses. It's like a computer. If you stimulate one part of the brain with an electrode, it-"’ He stopped talking. He could see an odd look on The Giver’s face. "They know nothing."
Jonas tried to be brave. He remembered that the Chief Elder had said he was brave.
They have never known pain, he thought. The realization made him feel desperately lonely.
The agony of the fractured leg began to seem no more than a mild discomfort as The Giver led Jonas firmly, little by little, in the deep and terrible suffering of the past.
Overwhelmed by pain, he lay there in the fearsome stench for hours, listened to the men and animals die, and learned what warfare meant.
Jonas did not want to go back. He did not want the memories, didn't want the honor, didn't want the wisdom, didn't want the pain. He wanted his childhood again, his scraped knees and ball games. He sat in his dwelling alone, watching through the window, seeing children at play, citizens bicycling home from uneventful days at work, ordinary lives free of anguish because he had been selected, as others before him had, to bear their burden. But the choice was not his. He returned each day to the Annex room.
There are so many good memories, The Giver reminded Jonas.
In one ecstatic memory he had ridden a gleaming brown horse across a field that smelled of damp grass, and had dismounted beside a small stream from which both he and the horse drank cold, clear water. Now he understood about animals; and in the moment that the horse turned from the stream and nudged Jonas's shoulder affectionately with its head, he perceived the bonds between animal and human.
He had walked through woods, and sat at night beside a campfire. Although he had through the memories learned about the pain of loss and loneliness, now he gained, too, an understanding of solitude and its joy.
"I liked the feeling of love," [Jonas] confessed. He glanced nervously at the speaker on the wall, reassuring himself that no one was listening. "I wish we still had that," he whispered. "Of course," he added quickly, "I do understand that it wouldn't work very well. And that it's much better to be organized the way we are now. I can see that it was a dangerous way to live."
..."Still," he said slowly, almost to himself, "I did like the light they made. And the warmth."
Do you love me?
There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle. "Jonas. You, of all people. Precision of language, please!"
What do you mean? Jonas asked. Amusement was not at all what he had anticipated.
Your father means that you used a very generalized word, so meaningless that it has become almost obsolete, his mother explained carefully.
Jonas stared at them. Meaningless? He had never before felt anything as meaningful as the memory.
Things could change, Gabe," Jonas went on. "Things could be different. I don't know how, but there must be some way for things to be different.
But now Jonas had experienced real sadness. He had felt grief. He knew that there was no quick comfort for emotions like those.
It was a game he had often played with the other children, a game of good guys and bad guys, a harmless pasttime that used up their contained energy and ended only when they all lay posed in freakish postures on the round. He had never recognized it before as a game of war.
Jonas felt a ripping sensation inside.
The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.
It was not safe to spend time looking back.
For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps, it was only an echo.