Classic Remarks – The Ending of The Giver

This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: How did you interpret the ending of Lois Lowry’s The Giver? I think it’s only fair to say before I start that I read this book as a novel study with my fifth grade (?) class, and we discussed this at length with the teacher, so my answer might be her answer…

I should also state that I have not read ANY of the sequels, and I have no idea what happens in them or what they are about or who the characters are, and it’s definitely possible that reading those books would change my interpretation.

In case you’ve forgotten, at the end of The Giver the protagonist, Jonas, kidnaps his adopted brother, Gabe, in order to prevent him from being “released”. They travel for days and days, and eventually the weather gets cold. They go on into the snow until Jonas finds a sled at the top of the hill, and they sled into a Christmas village where someone is waiting for them.

So I always have interpreted this (probably with the help of my 5th grade teacher) that Jonas and Gabe both die. There’s a couple of reasons for this. One, it’s just a GIANT coincidence that they would happen to find an abandoned sled at the top of the hill, and that the sled isn’t covered in snow. Two, the feeling that someone is waiting for them or of coming home is a device often used in literature and film when the main character dies. Third, if memory serves me Jonas starts to feel warm as he sleds down the hill.

And to this interpretation I have to say: WTF?!?! What, Ms. Lowry, is the point of going on this journey to save Gabe if he’s only going to die in the snow? What, Ms. Lowry, is the point of this BOOK? Yeah, yeah, save me the lecture, I get the points of the book. But still, a highly unsatisfying ending.

I actually really like that Lowry wrote a book for kids that is so open to interpretation and that has such an unsatisfactory ending. That’s how life can be sometimes, you know?, and just because they’re kids doesn’t mean they won’t get it. She never talks down to her audience, which is part of what makes her such an amazing children’s author.

How did you interpret the end of The Giver?

13 thoughts on “Classic Remarks – The Ending of The Giver

  1. Haha! I interpreted this exactly the opposite! Why would Lowry make me read an entire book just so the two kids can die at the end? I am having none of that! 😀 But I do love that she trusts young readers enough to leave them with an open ending!

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  2. Oh how I love this book! This was the book that I remember having to read with my tutor when I was having trouble with reading comprehension. I’ve read it multiple times since. And honestly, I always feel a little different about the ending. When I was younger, I think I wasn’t sure, but assumed they didn’t make it. But as I got older, I went the optimistic route that they did make it.
    I agree that I loved the open ending! I also read two of the sequels and enjoyed them (totally different society and characters)

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      1. Not that I remember … it was a completely different society and way of life, but I remember thinking that they’re close together or something. I never read the fourth book, so maybe it all ties together in the end?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, I never thought about the end being a picture of them dying, though looking at it now as an adult, I guess I could see that. When I originally read it, I figured that there was a community of people living outside of the planned community, where they live with their own families, not regulated families, and they don’t euthanize babies. I forgot about the “someone is waiting for them,” but even that could actually be, if this normal community is used to occasionally taking in refugees from Jonas’ planned community.

    Liked by 1 person

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