Student Question

Did Jonas make the wrong choice by fleeing the community with Gabriel in The Giver?

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When the Giver and Jonas come up with the plan to save the community from Sameness, they feel the only way to do it is for Jonas to go away alone and for the Giver to stay behind to help the community recover from the traumatic consequences. It seems as though no other possibilities are considered during the late-night planning session, though; the plan also does not include Gabriel, who Jonas feels he must save when he finds out Gabe will be released. As a result, Jonas acts rashly and irresponsibly when he leaves the community prematurely with Gabriel. Jonas makes the wrong choice to leave the community because he isn't prepared with enough supplies and food for Gabriel and himself. He also does not know where he is going or if there is another community out there to assist him. Furthermore, and most importantly, Jonas does not have the memories, maturity, or experience to take care of himself, let alone a toddler, in any type of unknown wilderness. For example, Jonas does not know how to live without Sameness, as shown in the following passage:

After a life of Sameness and predictability, he was awed by the surprises that lay beyond each curve of the road . . . But there were desperate fears building in him now as well. The most relentless of his new fears was that they would starve (216).

It is easy to dream of an ideal life when food is provided for him each day in the community. Jonas realizes this a little too late, though. The following passage shows how Jonas comes to a more mature understanding of the workings of life in the community, which are not as bad as he once thought:

If he had stayed in the community, he would not be [starving]. It was as simple as that. Once he had yearned for choice. Then, when he had had a choice, he had made the wrong one: the choice to leave (217).

The above passage shows Jonas admitting to himself that his choice to leave is a big mistake because he did not have enough memories or personal experiences to help him make an educated decision about leaving. Furthermore, Jonas and the Giver do not take into account an unregulated climate as experienced in the following passage:

He and Gabriel became cold and wet, and it was hard to get dry, even when the sunshine occasionally followed. . . He wept because he was afraid now that he could not save Gabriel. He no longer cared about himself (218).

Jonas leaves the community for two reasons: to save the community from Sameness and prevent Gabriel's release. Jonas acts like a savior, but he is not able to account for all the variables he needs to in order to accomplish such an enormous task. Part of the problem is he is unable to calculate what problems he would face outside of the community. Because of this flaw, Jonas sets himself up for failure and death. Hopefully, the Giver can help the community heal from the memories flooding back into people's lives. If so, then maybe Jonas's sacrifice is worth it; however, there is no guarantee that the plan works because the book ends without providing that information to the reader. Therefore, it is doubtful that Jonas succeeds in his mission because there are too many variables and obstacles that he faces blindly and without proper preparation or experience to succeed. If Jonas had stayed in the community, he might have been able to come up with a better plan to save Gabriel and improve the community at the same time.

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