What Was Ashers Assignment In The Giver

In The Giver (Lowry), Asher, Jonas' friend, is assigned at the Ceremony of Twelve to be the Assistant Director of Education. As with the other assignments, the Elders have been observing Asher his entire life to choose an assignment consistent with his capabilities. And this does seem to be a very good fit.

Asher is clearly a very nice person, whose "'...humor is unfailing'" (Lowry 55). Everyone in the community knows of his "cheerful disposition"...

In The Giver (Lowry), Asher, Jonas' friend, is assigned at the Ceremony of Twelve to be the Assistant Director of Education. As with the other assignments, the Elders have been observing Asher his entire life to choose an assignment consistent with his capabilities. And this does seem to be a very good fit.

Asher is clearly a very nice person, whose "'...humor is unfailing'" (Lowry 55). Everyone in the community knows of his "cheerful disposition" (55). When he does something wrong, he promptly apologizes. He seems to be a very active and athletic person, one who does not like sitting still. He must be chastised even at the Ceremony of Twelves "to sit still and face forward" (53).  These seem like good qualities for an Assistant Director of Education.

The Elders have also taken note over the years of assignments that Asher would not have been well-suited for because of some problems he has had.  As a Three, Asher had difficulty remembering and pronouncing words, so that he confused "smack" and "snack." So, it was clear that Asher would not have been an effective instructor. 

Sadly, the Ceremony seems to be an opportunity for the Elders to point out the children's flaws quite publicly. Even though the Chief Elder ends by thanking Asher for his childhood, she has, in front of the entire community, commented extensively on his flaws. Some readers may see this as gentle teasing, but I have always thought this was rather cruel.  

It is clear that the children are watched closely and given assignments that reflect their abilities and sometimes perhaps even what they enjoy doing.  But I think it would be dreadful to be twelve years old and have my professional fate decided upon for me forever more. 

Asher’s assignment means that he is training to take over the department in charge of games.

Asher is Jonas’s best friend.  Before the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas is worried that his friend will not be able to get a good assignment because he is more playful than serious.

"I worry a little about Asher's Assignment," Jonas confessed.  "Asher's such fun. But he doesn't really have any serious interests. He makes a game out of everything." (Ch, 2)

Assignments are handed out based on a child’s predispositions and interests.  The children are watched carefully in the years before they turn twelve.  The committee uses these observations to determine what profession would best suit the children, since no one actually chooses their own job.

The Recreation Director is in charge of playtime for the community’s children.  Children only play until the age of twelve, but they take part in organized games designed by the Recreation Director.  Asher is given the assignment of Assistant Director of recreation because he is playful.  The Chief Elder describes the qualities that make Asher ideal for the job.

His corrections and apologies are very prompt. And his good humor is unfailing." The audience murmured in agreement. Asher's cheerful disposition was well-known throughout the community. (Ch. 7)

When Jonas begins his own training, he learns many things about his community that no one else knows. One of the things he learns is the real nature of war.  Jonas tries to explain to Asher that they should not play war games.  Asher is irritated at what he sees as Jonas’s meddling.

"I'm the one who's training for Assistant Recreation Director," Asher pointed out angrily. "Games aren't your area of expertness." (Ch. 17)

Asher insists that Jonas cannot say what they play, because that is his job as the Assistant Recreation Director. Asher is training for the position of being in charge of all of games, not Jonas.  He does not understand what Jonas is talking about or why he would interfere, because no one else in the community knows any history.  War is nothing but a game to Asher.

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