How would you interpret the meaning of Jonas' dream in The Giver, Chapter 12?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the dream recounted in Chapter 12 of The Giver, Jonas relives his sledding experience, the first memory the Giver has given him.  In this dream, he has been sliding down the hill, and it feels as though he is meant to be headed somewhere in particular, "as if there were a destination" (88).  He wants and even needs to reach whatever it is that awaits him in the distance, with a "feeling that it was good. That it was welcoming. That it was significant" (88). What the dream does not help him with is how to get to this destination.  

This dream is foreshadowing for Jonas and for the reader the journey he will embark upon at the book's end, as he leaves for Elsewhere.  He has the vague idea that he has an important mission to fulfill and that the sled is going to be his means of setting forth on the mission.  However, the dream also tells him that he does not have the requisite knowledge to start his journey, since he has too few memories yet to be able to negotiate this journey well. The dream also suggests that he is not psychologically ready to leave the community.  His deeper understanding of the community and its dysfunction has not yet come to him yet through the memories and wisdom of the Giver. When he does come to understand the horrors of the society in which he lives, that provides him with the motivation and strength he needs to leave.