In The Giver, why does Jonas change his plan to leave the community?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Near the end of the book, Jonas and the Giver create a plan for Jonas to escape and fake his own death. This will allow him to release his stored memories to the Community, and find a new life outside. However, he changes the plan when he discovers that his baby stepbrother Gabriel is going to be euthanized; Jonas steals Gabriel and leaves without learning the last important memories.

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.
(Lowry, The Giver, Google Books)

Jonas had previously thought mostly of himself; he was trying to escape not only for the good of the Community (although he cannot be certain that the memories will return), but so he can witness and experience different places and things. Seeing that the Community is still going to continue its practices of euthanization, he becomes angry and determined to save Gabriel; this decision is impulsive, driven by emotion. For Jonas, it is more of a symbolic gesture of defiance; if he and Gabriel die outside the Community, it will be on their own terms. However, he is also hoping to find other people and give Gabriel the chance of a new life, one without the Community forcing every member into an assigned role.


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