Son Summary

Lois Lowry


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Son Summary

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Son is a 2012 children’s novel by Lois Lowry. The fourth and final installment in Lowry’s Giver series, the book follows the birth mother of Gabriel, a character who appeared as a young child in the first Giver novel, as she embarks on a ten-year journey to find her lost son. The book was generally well-received by critics, who praised the novel for further developing the backstory of one of the series’ main characters.

The novel begins in a dystopian society known only as the Community, the same setting where the first Giver novel took place. The residents of the Community see only in black and white, and are required by the government to take medication to suppress their emotions. People who live in the Community are not free to choose their own careers, and are instead assigned vocations by the Council of Elders when they reach the age of twelve.

Claire works as a birth mother, a woman whose job is to give birth to genetically engineered children, who are then raised in the Nurturing Center before being assigned to an adoptive family. After being chosen to become a birth mother at age twelve, Claire goes to live with the other birth mothers in her community and receives training. At age fourteen, Claire gives birth to a son, Gabriel, who is delivered by Caesarean section due to complications with the pregnancy.

Although birth mothers are normally required to bear three children before retiring, Claire is excused from her duty and reassigned to work in the Fish Hatchery because of her traumatic experience. Claire learns from the official who reassigns her that she gave birth to a healthy son and that he is numbered Thirty-Six in his year. As she begins her new job in the Fish Hatchery, however, she keeps thinking about her son. As a birth mother, Claire was exempt from taking the medication used to control people’s emotions, and was never put back on the pills after being reassigned. As a result, Claire develops feelings of love and attachment for her child.

She starts volunteering at the Nurturing Center so that she could be close to her son, a blond-haired and blue-eyed boy named Gabriel. After spending two years at the Center, however, Gabriel disappears from the community one day with a teenager named Jonas. In the first novel in the series, it is revealed that Gabriel was scheduled to be put to death because he wasn’t growing properly, and Jonas, a Receiver of memories, rescued him and escaped from the community.

Claire decides to leave the Community in a boat to find Gabriel and Jonas, which is against the law of the Community. She is caught in a storm and shipwrecked near a small village. The village is very different from the Community that Claire left behind. There is color, music, and emotion there. Claire is taken in by a midwife named Alys, who tries to help her recover from the temporary amnesia that she suffered in the shipwreck. A man named Lame Einar trains Claire to climb the large mountain bordering the village because it is the only way to leave the village and continue her quest to find Gabriel.

After reaching the top of the mountain, however, Claire runs into an evil spirit called the Trademaster, who offers to help Claire find her son in return for her youth. Claire agrees to the deal, and the Trademaster transforms her into an old woman and leads her to Gabriel, who is living in the village with Jonas and his wife Kira. Claire settles into the village and sees her son often, but does not tell him who she is because she is afraid that he won’t believe her.

Gabriel is now a teenager with the ability to “veer,” or inhabit another person’s body and read his or her thoughts. He becomes curious about his birth parents and wants to build a boat to go and find them. After learning that Claire is Gabriel’s birth mother, Jonas tells Gabriel about Claire’s identity and explains that the evil Trademaster took away her youth and turned her into an old woman. Jonas convinces Gabriel to kill the Trademaster in order to free his mother from his spell and save her from imminent death.

Gabriel veers into the Trademaster’s body and discovers that he is a sadistic man who thrives on other people’s suffering, and that he has made similar deals with many other people in the village because he wants to harm them. Among the people who have made deals with the Trademaster are a couple who traded their children’s health for a Gaming Machine and a man who traded his honor for attractiveness. He also threw Einar off the mountain, which Einar climbed after an argument with his father, and chopped off half of each of his feet because Einar refused to make a deal with him.

Gabriel finds the Trademaster and kills him by telling him that all the people that he has tried to harm are living good lives. Gabriel marks the spot where he defeated the Trademaster with a boat paddle that he has carved. He then returns to the village and is reunited with Claire, who has become a young woman once again. The main themes of Son include family, sacrifice, obligation, and the love between parent and child. The novel wraps up the long chain of events that began in the first Giver book and reveals more information about Gabriel’s past.