What does Gabriel symbolize in The Giver?

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Gabriel symbolizes love and family for Jonas. As Receiver of Memory, Jonas is exempt from taking the pills that suppress emotion within members of the community. As Jonas receives memories of love from the Giver, spends time with Gabriel, and shares memories with him, they develop a brother-like bond. Jonas notes that himself and Gabe both have light eyes and wonders if they have the same birth mother. Jonas and Gabe share the ability to possess memories. This is associated with the Capacity to See Beyond, or ability to use senses that are present in memories. This ability is rare within the community and could also indicate a genetic link between them. Jonas's main reason for escaping the community is to save Gabriel from Release. On their journey through Elsewhere, Jonas weeps as Gabriel weakens from starvation. Gabe has become the only thing that matters to Jonas, indicating the lengths he will go to save a loved one.

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Gabriel, the small child that Jonas's father brings home to nurture, represents family and hope to Jonas and to the readers.  For starters, he represents family.  Jonas quickly notices that he and Gabriel have those light colored eyes in common.  He even wonders if they had the same birth mother (which would make Gabriel literally his family!).  Gabriel unknowingly teaches Jonas to love, which was basically unknown to Jonas.  Gabriel cries at night, and Jonas is the only one who can calm him.  This allows Jonas to step into a nurturing family role, which is something that would happen naturally in our society, but was not allowed in theirs.

Gabriel also represents hope for Jonas and the readers. He is young, and innocent, and provides Jonas with the strength and courage he needs to escape from their society of Sameness.  Jonas loves Gabriel, and this gives him hope that life can be better like he's witnessed in his sessions with The Giver. Because Gabriel has become family, their only hope is to leave in order to save Gabriel's, and ultimately Jonas's life.  Their journey and ultimate freedom give them the hope they need to continue on until they reach their destination.

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