Chapter 22 Summary
The first memory Jonas received showed him what sledding was and what hills are. In the community, there are no hills because they chose to go to Sameness. Later he learned about rain, another thing that was left behind because of the desire for Sameness. Now Jonas has moved beyond the community’s climate control and uniform landscaping, and he discovers the reality of the problems that hills pose. For one thing, riding the bicycle has become much more difficult and dangerous. The ground is no longer smooth, and Jonas soon falls off his bicycle. As a child, he scraped his knees, but now he injures his ankle and only finds relief by putting it into a nearby pond.
There are other challenges now that Jonas has entered a world that is not driven by Sameness. The rain, which seemed so nice to experience in the memories passed on by the Giver, now makes Jonas and Gabriel wet and uncomfortable, and it takes them both a long time to dry off. Jonas was once chastised for complaining that he was “starving” because he was only “hungry.” No one in the community ever starves. However, Jonas is no longer in the community, and now he is experiencing starvation. So is Gabriel. Jonas does his best to experience and transmit memories of eating cakes and other foods, but he has traveled so far from the community that the memories are now very difficult to experience.
When Jonas first learned about how the community worked, he was irritated that its organization denied its members choice. Now, Jonas wonders whether he made the wrong choice in escaping. He and Gabriel are clearly starving. However, Jonas reflects, if he had stayed, he would be starving for love, color, and feeling. If he had stayed, Gabriel would already have been killed, so perhaps there was no choice at all.
Fortunately, there is still a sense of balance. One day, Gabriel announces that there are planes nearby. Before Jonas can panic and hide, he sees that Gabriel is pointing at birds. Jonas has never seen an actual bird before, but what remains of the received memories helps him identify these new creatures. He also sees deer and flowers and other aspects of nature that have been, until now, denied him. There are even some red furry creatures with thick tails that Jonas cannot identify. There is beauty in the world. But the most pressing concern is finding food for Gabriel, who now screams from starvation.