In The Giver, what could've happened to the community when they got the memories back? Did they they get all of the memories back? Did Jonas get to Elsewhere?

Expert Answers
annahillman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ending of Lois Lowry's The Giver, is notoriously ambiguous. Many questions remain unanswered and the reader has the opportunity to examine the possibilities of what they think happens after Jonas leaves his community.

As long as the community has a designated person to hold the memories of the past, then the citizens remain unaware of certain histories and emotions. Jonas and The Giver feel that "memories need to be shared" (158). Without Jonas to receive the memories, they will return to the people. After Jonas leaves with Gabriel, then ideally all of the memories that The Giver holds will be released into the community. The citizens will become aware of the history of the world, and the reality of their present community. Although the community in The Giver seems to be a utopia, the reality is quite the opposite. The reality is that their community is more of a dystopia because the people have no real say in what happens in their own lives. The purpose of giving the memories back to the people is to allow them the right to make their own choices and decisions, and let them feel love and joy and even sorrow. Even though they will learn negative and possibly hurtful things, they will be able to live their lives fully and find what actually makes them happy.

As for Jonas, after his long grueling trip in harsh weather, the book ends with him arriving at a hill where he finds a sled. Interestingly, the memory of snow and the sled was the first memory that The Giver transferred to Jonas, bringing Jonas' journey full circle. Jonas and Gabriel ride the sled down the hill and Jonas sees a small house with Christmas lights and hears music. However, the music is coming not only from the house, but from behind in the distance as well.

"Behind him, across the vast distance of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo" (183).

While the ending remains ambiguous, many possibilities have been discussed regarding what happens to Jonas. One possibility includes Jonas and Gabe arriving Elsewhere and perhaps living a happy life with the family in the small house at the end of the hill while his old community sings joyously for their future. Another possibility includes Jonas arriving Elsewhere in a metaphorical sense of the term after he passes away from the elements; the music he hears is his wish for his old community. One more option for the ending involves Jonas and Gabe making a circular journey and the scene that he sees at the bottom of the hill is in fact his community after they have received the memories.

The ambiguity at the end of the novel allows the reader to take their own experiences reading the text and explore possible endings. The fate of both Jonas and the community do not have to remain within the limits of the pages; the next step can be anything the reader imagines.