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When people have the power to choose, they choose wrong.
~ The Chief Elder

The Chief Elder is the leader of The Community and the main antagonist in the book and movie The Giver.

In the movie, she was portrayed by Meryl Streep, who also portrayed The Witch in Into the Woods, Jessica Lovejoy from The Simpsons, and Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.


In Jonas' time, she is the story's main antagonist.  At the December Ceremony, she gives speeches and assigns jobs to eleven-year-olds (referred to as "Elevens").

She believes that an authoritarian utopian society is the solution to pain and suffering and will go to extreme lengths to maintain such a society, even the execution of children by lethal injection (known as "release").

In the movie adaption of the novel, the Chief Elder assigns the 16 year old boy Jonas the occupation of Receiver of Memory, this occupation consists on Jonas spending the rest of his days with The Giver who will give Jonas the memories of what the world once was, so he can give knowledge to the future generations, the Chief Elder keeps an eye on The Giver, as 10 year before he gave the past Receiver Rosemary (who was also the Giver's daughter) too much knowledge than he should have, Rosemary became depressed and asked the Elders to "release" her, and because of this the Chief Elder is afraid this would happen again.

Jonas is becoming more daring and happy as his knowledge grows and the Chief Elder notices this, after trying to make Jonas tell her what The Giver was showing him (without success), the Chief Elder starts noticing that Jonas fell in love with his friend Fiona.

The Giver accidentally gives Jonas the memories of the Vietnam War and Jonas terrified leaves with the Giver begging him to be strong and return the next day, Jonas the next day, makes a deal with Fiona, he will return with the Giver if she stops taking the daily injections (which removes emotions), after this Jonas returns with the Giver and shows him the memories of music and love, Jonas decides that everyone must have this knowledge, and the Giver tells him he can achieve this by leaving the community and cross the Boundary of Memory, Jonas asks Fiona to come with him but refuses, Jonas takes Gabriel (a baby who as Jonas will become Receiver) and both escape the community besides the Chief Elder attempts to stop them, after Jonas and Gabriel leave the community, the Chief Elder lies to the community telling them Jonas was lost on the Edge, secretly the Chief Elder asks Asher a friend of Jonas who is also Drone pilot to look for Jonas and lose him, Asher loses but doesn't kills Jonas nor Gabriel and tells the Chief Elder he has been lost, Fiona is taking under custody as the lack of injections made her emotional and helped Jonas escape, the Chief Elder takes the Giver also into custody for later interrogation, Jonas's mother who is either a lawyer or judge tells Fiona she is going to be "released", while Jonas is almost on the border, Fiona is taken to a room where Jonas's father a Nurturer is going to release her while the Chief Elder, the other elders, Jonas's mother and The Giver are watching, The Giver persuades the Chief Elder to stop telling her and Jonas's mother the things he showed to Jonas like pain, lost, music, joy and love saying both Jonas and Fiona felt that, the Chief Elder debates with the Giver the reason why emotions are suppressed, the Chief Elder tries to convince the Giver that's the better way but the Giver tells her love is the answer for a better future.

As this is happening, Jonas finds a sled near the Border and uses it to cross it faster, just as Fiona is about to have the lethal injection, Jonas crosses the border realizing the memories of the world and the emotions in a wave, this wave reaches the communities, Jonas's father stops the release process as the people in the room are starting to remember and noticing color around them. Jonas's father remembers Family, Hope and Death, Fiona remembers Sadness, Youth and Freedom, Jonas's Mother remember Happiness, Childhood and Faith, the Chief Elder remembers War, Loss and Disaster and as everyone in the room remembers Joy, Dance, Freedom, Music, Family, Diversity and Love, everyone, including the Chief Elder, start to cry witnessing the beauty of what the world once was.