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?