Chapter 20 Summary
Jonas has watched his father release an infant, and now he knows that release means kill. His father’s job is to kill children, and Fiona’s job is to kill the elderly. Something in Jonas is torn by this experience, and he cries and lashes out against the Giver, declaring that he will never go back to his family. The Giver agrees to let Jonas stay in the Annex room with him. He has his assistant notify Jonas’s family unit. She readily agrees to help out, and Jonas sarcastically mocks her compliance.
Eventually, the Giver manages to help Jonas to calm down, reminding the young Receiver that no one in the community is capable of feeling anything about what they do. Together, they work out a plan for Jonas to escape from the community. It has been nearly a year since the Ceremony of Twelve when Jonas was selected to become Receiver in Training. The Receiver does not usually attend the ceremony, and this year, the two will take advantage of this. Jonas will leave a note on the morning of the ceremony explaining to his family that he is going out for a morning bicycle ride along the river. Meanwhile, the Giver will request a vehicle and driver for the purpose of visiting a nearby community. This is also not unusual. In reality, Jonas will use this time to escape to Elsewhere.
Jonas tries to convince the Giver to come with him, but the Elder explains that his role is to stay and help the community deal with the memories that Jonas’s escape will release to them. However, the Giver feels that Jonas’s role should be to escape because the memories he will release will help the community become more “complete.” The Giver does not want to escape to Elsewhere. He wants to be with his daughter, Rosemary.
For a long time, the Giver did not think they could do anything to bring change to the community but now he sees a way. When Jonas escapes, the Giver will return to the ceremony and announce that Jonas has been lost to the river. The community will chant Jonas’s name, loudly at first and in descending levels of volume until he is merely a whisper. They will feel the pain of Jonas’s memories, and they will be confused. They will need to turn to the Giver for his wisdom to deal with these new experiences.
In the meantime, when Jonas returns home, he lies to his family about how he feels. Furthermore, he now knows that his father is lying to him in return when he discusses his work.