The Giver plans to give Jonas memories of strength and courage, but he is unable to. Jonas has to use the memories he has to help his survive.
After Jonas learns the true meaning of release, he is no longer comfortable being a member of his community. He is frustrated with the fact that his community members have no feelings, and do not seem to care about others. He cannot believe that his father and Fiona would kill innocent babies and old people. The Giver tells him that the people know nothing, and only way to help them is to escape and release the memories back to them.
When Jonas and The Giver plan Jonas’s escape, they plan to use memories to strength him along his journey. The Giver tells Jonas that he has memories of all kinds of escapes, but nothing like this. He cannot prepare Jonas for exactly the situation he is facing. They know that he will be pursued heavily, and because he will have broken so many rules, if he is caught, he will be “condemned.” That most likely means released.
There had been no time to receive the memories he and The Giver had counted on, of strength and courage. So he relied on what he had, and hoped it would be enough. (Ch. 21)
As Jonas continues his journey, he realizes that he has plenty of memories. He gives soothing memories to Gabriel, and uses the memories that he already has to keep both of them warm when they need to be and cool down their body temperature when search planes come by. Jonas realizes that he did not need the strength the Giver planned to give him.
So he had enough strength of his own, and had not needed what The Giver might have provided, had there been time.
But when the planes came, he wished that he could have received the courage. (Ch. 21)
Jonas has to find courage within himself. It was one of the traits that he was supposed to have had to be chosen as the Receiver of Memory. Throughout his training, Jonas has proven that he had it when he accepted difficult and painful memories from The Giver, and when he escaped on his own without a second thought to rescue Gabriel, and now he proves it again as he keeps his head and protects both of them.
Jonas finds himself starving, and has to use memories of food to sustain himself and Gabriel. As he gets farther from home, he finds that he has no memories left, because they have returned to the community. The terrain is difficult, and Jonas and Gabriel find themselves weak, cold, and wet. Eventually, Jonas finds a sled, and a house, and possibly is saved. The ending is ambiguous.
Things definitely do not go as planned with Jonas’s escape. While we do not know what is happening back in the community, one thing is clear—Jonas has released his memories back to the rest of the community, and they will have to deal with the consequences of that. On his own with a small child, Jonas finds that he has to rely on his training and his newly developed emotions to give him what he needs to survive. He realizes that his love for Gabriel and his desire to be free will give him the strength to go on.