The Giver: Chapter 21-23

Chapter 21, Summary


Jonas is forced to leave unexpectedly, so their plan had to be changed. Jonas is not afraid as he flees the community on his bicycle. Jonas finds out that little Gabriel was going to be released by his Father, so Jonas takes Gabriel with him. They have to escape the search planes. It’s a long journey, and Jonas is forced to contemplate differing views of starving: food, where there is physical pain, and love, where there are colors and memories and feelings (173). Jonas has no choice but to leave: to save Gabriel, his family, and the community. 


Chapter 22, Summary


Jonas learns selflessness because he must use all of his strength and memory to save little Gabriel’s life. Jonas starts to see things he’d never seen before, such as birds and wildflowers. It begins to rain, and Jonas is suddenly confronted with real starvation and the possibility of death, but he continues to help Gabriel.


Chapters 21 and 22, Analysis


Jonas acts as an adult by saving Gabriel from death and saving the community from an endless life of conformity and ignorance. Jonas has almost completed his journey into maturation. He exhibits bravery by making a decision and by braving the weather and the search planes in his flight to freedom. He is confronted also with two different forms of starvation: the tangible, namely food to eat, and the intangible, represented by feelings and colors and love, non-existent in his present life in the community. So he flees with Gabriel, a baby. 


Water is presented in these two chapters as representative of the choice Jonas makes and of life. He transfers a memory of water to Gabriel: “a rhythmic sound of languid water lapping hypnotically against a beach nearby” (166). And in chapter 22, the landscape begins to change: “they saw streams more frequently now and stopped often to drink” (170). Water signifies the choice for life that Jonas has made for himself and for Gabriel and for his community he left behind.


Chapter 23, Summary


Jonas and Gabriel reach Elsewhere, but it starts to snow, and Jonas is very weak. His memories have started to return to the community. Jonas begins to feel joy and finds his sled waiting at the top of a hill. He and Gabriel finally reach their destination. They arrive at Elsewhere where there is love, and light, and singing.


Chapter 23, Analysis


This final chapter is symbolic of the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible. The journey that Jonas makes with Gabriel is similar to the journey that Mary and Joseph make in the Bible story. The whole idea of bringing a baby who represents life to people is an important part of that story and of Jonas’s journey to Elsewhere. He saves Gabriel from physical death, and he saves his community from a spiritual death, a life without colors and feelings and love. 


Jonas completes his journey to adulthood, but not before he falls one time: “He didn’t make it very far before he stumbled and fell forward” (176). Jonas’s fall could be compared to Jesus’ crucifixion when he is carrying his cross and falls. Jonas sees light on the last leg of his journey when he reaches Elsewhere, but this light is also symbolic of death. Therefore, the novel’s ending is ambiguous. Jonas completes his journey, but to what destination is left to the reader’s choice.