Where do Jonas and Gabe go at the end of the story The Giver?

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Jonas and Gabe escape to Elsewhere, leaving the community.

When Jonas finds out that Gabe is going to be released, he has to take action.  He grabs the baby and goes on the run at night.  He and The Giver had been planning to have Jonas escape, to return the memories to the community, but the planned release of Gabe moves up the timetable.  Jonas has to do it on his own, before he is completely ready.

He takes his father’s bicycle, because it has a way to carry Gabe.  To escape, he must leave the community and go well into the outskirts of what the people call "Elsewhere."  To Jonas’s people, Elsewhere is both a metaphorical concept and an actual place.  When someone dies he or she goes to Elsewhere, but any place but the community is technically Elsewhere.

Jonas and The Giver discussed the possibility of what would happen to the community if Jonas succeeded in getting away.

"If you get away, if you get beyond, if you get to Elsewhere, it will mean that the community has to bear the burden themselves, of the memories you had been holding for them….”  (Ch. 20)

Jonas too has to be prepared.  The Giver transmits to him memories of courage, warmth, and strength to prepare him for his journey.  He cannot go, because he will need to help the people when Jonas is gone and the memories return to them.  They will have no idea how to handle it, and will need his guidance. 

Jonas is hunted by search planes, which use heat sensors to try to find him.  He uses the memories to cool his and Gabe’s temperatures.  He falls on his bike, twisting an ankle.

Jonas moves from a landscape of Sameness close to the community to one that is at first beautiful and then harsh.  He has to deal with streams and hills, and then snow and cold.  He has never seen wildflowers and birds before, and the beauty of it awes him.  Yet as things get more and more treacherous, it gets harder to be sustained by the memories.

The ending of the book is somewhat ambiguous, meaning that it is not clear exactly what happens.  It seems that Jonas and Gabriel either die or escape at a house where there is singing.  What seems suspicious about this is that several things about incident appear to be out of Jonas’s memories.  He encounters snow, a sled, and a house he seems to recognize.  However, it never says that he recognizes the house specifically from an earlier memory, only that he recognizes houses.

[He] could see lights, and he recognized them now. He knew they were shining through the windows of rooms, that they were the red, blue, and yellow lights that twinkled from trees in places where families created and kept memories, where they celebrated love. (Ch. 23)

This could mean that they are rescued, or that Jonas has slipped into a coma.  If this was the only book, and there were no sequels, we would have no other information.  Jonas himself seems to be passing out at the end of the book, interpreting the music as “it was only an echo” (Ch. 23).  Ended that, he seems to have died.  However, he also could have been rescued.  Just at there, there is no way to know.

Jonas makes a harrowing journey to save young Gabe's life, and out of the commitment to save his people from a life of Sameness.  Whether you believe Jonas lived or not (sequels aside), one thing is clear.  Jonas certainly reached Elsewhere, no matter how you define it: place or death.

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