Chapter 23 Summary
Jonas and Gabriel are starving, and now things are getting worse. A swirling snowstorm has started. Although Jonas tells Gabriel that snow is beautiful, it is of little help to the two fugitives. Still, Jonas feels that Elsewhere is nearby. None of his senses confirm it and there are no sounds ahead, but Jonas feels certain that he is close to his destination. Up to this point, Elsewhere has been a place of mystery. For all Jonas knows, it may well be, as Lily speculates, a world of twins. Regardless of what it is, Jonas is desperate to reach a world of light and warmth. He and Gabe will die of starvation and exposure soon.
The snow is mounting, and ahead of them, Jonas sees a hill. Jonas’s feet and legs are numb and exhausted from the exertion of their travels. Jonas continues to push on the pedals, but the bicycle eventually stalls and then falls over. With great difficulty, Jonas forces himself up and begins to climb.
He has now traveled so far from the community that he can feel the memories leaving. Soon the Giver’s wisdom will be required to help guide the community through the troubling new memories and experiences he is leaving. However, Jonas still struggles to transmit memories of sunshine to Gabriel, whose hair is matted and whose skin is dirty and streaked by tears. With the power of these memories in his mind, Jonas continues up the hill as he and the infant hug each other for warmth.
Jonas relies on his memories to help him continue, but it seems that they have all gone. Suddenly he thinks of the Giver, Asher, and Fiona, and Jonas finds that these thoughts give him a burst of energy that allows him to reach the top of the hill. Once there, Jonas suddenly recognizes his surroundings. He looks down and sees a sled, and he knows that this time there will be no ice and pain waiting for him at the end of the ride. He is surrounded by fresh snow. Jonas finds the rope and carefully rides down the hill. When he gets to the bottom of the hill, he looks up and sees a village. There are lights and buildings. There is warmth. There is joy and singing and music. As the novel closes, Jonas thinks he hears music coming across the distance he has traveled, from the community that he left, “but perhaps it was only an echo.”