“To err is human, to LOVE, divine.”
Forgive us for butchering this quote, which really is, “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” But we’ve nothing to forgive Jonas for when, in Chapter Twenty-one, he nabs Gabe and the two set out on Jonas’ father’s bicycle to escape the community because Gabe is set to be released – killed – the next morning. Jonas demonstrates love for Gabe by taking him and saving his life.
We’ve also come to realize that Jonas must love his community if he’s willing to leave it forever in order that the community will get his memories – and the feelings that the memories hold. Trust us, the physical pain and emotional despair, not to mention literally starving, that Jonas goes through in Chapters Twenty-two and Twenty-three? Selfishly glad it’s him and not us. At least he and Gabe don’t meet any lions, tigers, or bears.
Lest we forget, that final Chapter Twenty-three sure is one for the literary record books in the vein of Will Shakespeare’s “To be, or not to be, that is the question” in Hamlet. So which is it? Do Jonas and Gabe survive and meet a happy fate? Or is it just an amalgamation of the first sled-ride memory and the joyous Christmas memory that the Giver gave to Jonas earlier in the novel – meaning that Jonas has slipped into a coma-like state and likely he and Gabe die?
We’ve gone back and forth on that conundrum and ultimately keep humming, “Do you hear what I hear?” Jonas hears music coming from the downhill place that he and Gabe are sledding toward. He possibly hears at least an echo of music behind him – meaning from the community that he left. But the Giver never gave a memory of music to Jonas, so how would Jonas even know what music is? Name whatever musical key you want. We think Jonas and Gabe survive – and hopefully find love in their future.