The Giver | Study Guide

Lois Lowry

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The Giver | Chapter 21 | Summary

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Summary

After working out his detailed plan with The Giver to escape, Jonas returns to his dwelling. As usual, he listens to Lily's chatter and his parents' comments (and "lies," Jonas thinks). But then Father looks at Gabriel, playing happily on the floor, and casually mentions that the little boy will not be staying with them anymore. He explains that when Jonas spent the night at the Annex, he had sent Gabriel to the Nurturing Center to see how he did on his own. Without Jonas near him, the little boy cried all night. The Nurturers all agreed that this was unacceptable behavior for a child Gabriel's age. Father had been among those to decide that, as a result, Gabriel would be released the next morning. In his sweet, sing-song voice, he says it will be "bye-bye to you, Gabriel." Mother and Lily agree it's probably for the best, and that they've done all they could.

Jonas knows that to save Gabriel, he must leave that night instead of in two weeks. As soon as it is dark, Jonas steals some food and his father's bicycle, which has a child seat on the back. He puts Gabriel into a sound sleep through a memory, and pedals away from the community. He hopes The Giver will understand.

Over the next few days, Jonas makes his way through nearby communities and learns to avoid the search planes that come after him. He also uses memories of cold to cool down his and Gabriel's body temperatures so that heat-seeking technology cannot locate them. During their quiet times, Gabriel giggles with delight as he plays with grass and twigs. Jonas keeps giving the little boy his dreams but notices they are becoming weaker and shallower. This is what he had hoped for—that as he moved further from the community, he would shed dreams and they would return to the people who need them.

Analysis

Chapter 21 confirms everything both the readers and Jonas now know about the community and its citizens. Despite having raised Gabriel for a year, Father and Mother have no qualms about him being released, even though both understand what that means. They have not allowed themselves to form any emotional connection with the little boy, and even Lily doesn't seem to care that she will never see the child again.

Jonas, on the other hand, reaches a new level of courage and compassion. To save Gabriel, he puts himself at even greater risk than would have been the case if he had been able to follow the plan he'd worked out with The Giver. His intelligence and memories help him avoid the search planes and figure out efficient ways to travel. And even after several days of exhausting travel, he is still able to take pleasure in Gabriel's happiness.

Finally, Jonas is content to know that even as his memories fade, they are probably returning to the community, which means The Giver can help the people there begin to change. With the memories, they will be able to experience happiness, love, and pain. Color will reenter their lives.

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