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What is your interpretation of the ending of "The Giver"?The ending of "The...

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slchanmo1885 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted December 17, 2008 at 8:00 PM via web

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What is your interpretation of the ending of "The Giver"?

The ending of "The Giver" has been interpreted in many ways. Do Jonas and Gabe reach another community? Is the last scene a dream? Or perhaps, do the two die, and are the lights and music Jonas and Gabe dying and entering the afterlife? What is your interpretation?

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted December 18, 2008 at 6:05 AM (Answer #2)

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Honestly, I think the ending of The Giver sets us up to expect a sequel. I suspect that the original manuscript or book proposal was for a much longer book than what ended up in print and that the publisher decided to break create a series in order to generate more profit. I hate to sound cynical, but having worked in the publishing industry for many years, I know that bringing in revenue is more important than contributing to great literature.

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slchanmo1885 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted December 18, 2008 at 10:01 AM (Answer #3)

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So you don't think that they died, then. When I first read the book I thought they had made it to Elsewhere (maybe it was just me wanting a happy ending) but later in discussion with others, my eyes were opened up to the other possibilities. I wonder if there was a planned sequel? It is such a popular book that I would wonder why Lowry didn't write it. Instead she went on to write "Gathering Blue," which follows a very similar formula but doesn't have quite the same impact in my eyes.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted December 18, 2008 at 11:52 AM (Answer #4)

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You need to read the third book in the series: "The Messenger." Jonas and Gabriel, from "The Giver," and Matty, from "Gathering Blue," are the main characters in this book.

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lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 18, 2008 at 6:40 PM (Answer #5)

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I have always thought the most reasonable explanation for the ending was that Jonas and Gabriel were dying. I've also read Lois Lowry's own words that she did not intend the ending to be taken that way. The memories that Jonas accesses about winter and Christmas are supposed to be very old. On the other hand, a plane flies overhead at one point. When it comes right down to it, I think she very artfully created a book that lent itself to many interpretations, and all could be backed up with examples from the book.

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eboyas | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 27, 2008 at 4:38 AM (Answer #6)

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This is an interesting topic. Did you know that there are sequels to this book? (and a prequel) I've never read them, but from what I understand, they don't talk a whole lot about Jonas.

I have my students write an alternate ending every year when we study the book; they love it. I, myself, prefer to allow for many different endings.

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tresvivace | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted January 1, 2009 at 8:32 PM (Answer #7)

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When I taught The Giver, some of my students were very upset by this open-ended conclusion.  Two girls who worked together on a project about the book decided to go to the source and contacted Lois Lowry to ask her opinion about the ending.  As we might expect, Lowry told my students that she intentionally left the ending cryptic because she wanted readers to be able to interpret it as they did.  A friend and I discussed it and decided that we, too (like the poster above), wanted to believe that Jonas and Gabriel had reached "Elsewhere," but the book leads us to believe that "Elsewhere" means death.  So are they dead?  Are they in an afterlife?  Or are they saved?  I don't mind uncertainty in conclusions, but it IS interesting to hear that there are sequels to the book.  I'd love to hear from those who have read the sequels, in part because one person I know even disputed that these are actually "sequels" in the usual sense--just different books that deal with the same characters and concepts.  I am eager to read more in this thread.  

My students' project was amazing, by the way, and I admired their initiative in contacted Lowry.  

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jessecreations | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted February 23, 2009 at 2:01 PM (Answer #8)

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When I read it, I honestly thought they were dying.  I thought the whole idea of there being a sled was just too convenient and odd, so I honestly thought he had imagined it and they were dying.  Then I read the interview with Lois Lowry in the back of the book, where she said she intentionally left the ending vague because she wanted people to be able to envision their own future for Jonas and Gabe, but that she definitely did NOT think that the two boys died.

So, if I'm being optimistic, I'd say they find a nice family to take them in, and somehow the society they find in Elsewhere doesn't have the same constraints as the community they came from, so they are able to grow up with actual feelings and family, etc., to envision a brighter future.  Maybe eventually they'll even go back to their community to see if things have changed, or to help create those changes.

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kaybo | Student , Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 6, 2009 at 6:21 PM (Answer #9)

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Honestly, i do not think Jonas and Gabe died. Seriously, it might just be my optimistic slef saying that they didnt but i just think its too sad to be the ending. I just finished the book today, and absolutly loved it. I dont know if i have read a better book, it was very well thought out and got me thinking, what if our world was really like this? What if we really didnt have any memories, or our own grandparents? What if after we got our own life we never saw our parents again? I think that Lois Lowry wouldnt have left the ending like that if she wanted them to be gone. I think she would have just killed them off and told you so. I honestly did not want them to die. I was very attached to the book and didnt want it to end. I have already started reading Gathering Blue and am very into it. I really hope that like everyone has told me it mentions Jonas and Gabe. I do not think they are dead also becuase it just seems to obvious. I always pverthink things and it might be because of that but anywho I think they found a new home in Elsewhere, a new life, and a new, family. Maybe Jonas might even get to go back to jis community and see The Giver again, but I would rather The Giver get to go see his daughter, Rosemary. I was very surprised when I found out she was his daughter. I had no idea and dint even think about it. I was so glad when Jonas took off with Gabe, i almost cried when I found out Gabe was going to get released.

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mimizsweet | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 11, 2009 at 12:15 PM (Answer #10)

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i think that they lived

                         1. because in the first memory jonas had that aching feeling that something lay beyond that hill.

                       2. he lost all of his memories so how could he get them back?

                     3. because in the messenger the characters of gabriel and jonas showed up again

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dalepowell1962 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted May 24, 2009 at 10:22 PM (Answer #11)

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I first learned of The Giver in 1994 and read it and began teaching it the same year.  I was always convinced they died because the music seemed to be coming from the place he had come from- where music had not been before.  Also notice that the first time and only time in the book, Gabriel is referred to as "the baby" in the next to last paragraph of the book--all this led me to believe that Gabriel and Jonas were dead.

But they were not.

Gathering Blue (2000) certainly hinted strongly that Jonas was not dead and Messenger (2004) made it abundantly clear that they lived.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 16, 2010 at 2:03 PM (Answer #12)

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Ambiguity is the name of the game here - whilst I agree that the novel ends in a way that obviously is set up for a sequel, I think part of the mastery of its ending lies in the fact that we do not know and we are deliberately left with at least two possible endings - they die or they reach Elsewhere and live. I guess it depends a lot on how we interpret the novel as a whole and the kind of tone it strikes.

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hamatthews54 | Student , Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 27, 2011 at 4:40 AM (Answer #13)

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Gabriel and Jonas die together in the snow. The place that Jonas and Gabriel are from is so terrible and horrific that Jonas needs comfort and happiness. They found a better place, in death. They did reach “Elsewhere.” Jonas thought that Elsewhere was a good place where people went when they were released. I had though about it and come to a conclusion that “Elsewhere” is death. Death is where people go when they are released. Gabriel and Jonas reached death which I believe was “Elsewhere.”

 

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user44111 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 27, 2013 at 10:13 AM (Answer #14)

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okay so i havent read this book sinc 7th grade but i remember it pretty vividly. the way i thought of the ending was that jonas was just returning to the old town that he had just left and it had changed. the giver told jonas a story of a past reciever that had left and ALL the memories that had been recieved were lost and given to the people in the town leaving them overwelmed with all these new things they had never felt. so i believe that when jonas and gabe left it released all his memories to the rest of the people and he went in a big circle only to return to a completely different town because everyone had the memories of emotion and color , hot , cold , ect.

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