WHAT IS CLASSIC REMARKS?
Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.
HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE?
Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!
(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)
THIS WEEK’S PROMPT:
How do you interpret the ending of Lois Lowry’s The Giver?
Spoilers ahead for The Giver and, of course, its ending!
Lois Lowry’s The Giver ends ambiguously with the main character Jonas escaping from his society along with the baby Gabriel, whom he has rescued from being euthanized for the crime of not fitting in. As the two travel through the snow, they reach the top of a hill. Jonas believes he sees lights in the distance. But is Jonas really seeing the lights of a village that can save them? A place where he and Gabriel can start a new life? Or is Jonas dying in the snow from exposure, perhaps only hallucinating?
Now, of course, Lowry has gone on to write a number of companion books to The Giver, apparently answering conclusively whether or not Jonas has survived. For readers unfamiliar with these books, however, the question lingers: Did Jonas and Gabriel make it? And how could Lowry do this to readers? Especially to young readers? Aren’t books for tweens and teens supposed to have happy, uplifting messages? Endings that provide hope instead of confusion?
Personally, I like my stories to have happy endings. When I first read The Giver, I knew that Jonas and Gabriel had survived. I never questioned it. I actually did not realize for some time that there were people out there who believed the two had died. After all, what kind of an ending is that? It would be really awful to believe that Jonas sacrificed so much, gave up his family and his home and the only life he has ever known, just to perish in the snow. Maybe he saved his society in the process, giving them back their memories and their emotions, but for him to have to die for it, so young, would be so unfair!
And I’m sticking to that. I have never read the companions to The Giver because, to me, The Giver stands on its own. I never felt that the story had to continue or that I needed to know more. Maybe one day I will turn to these books, just to see what else Lowry has to say. But, I still know that Jonas and Gabriel survived. They have to. Because they deserve a happy ending, and a new beginning. If the choice rests with me as the reader to decide their fate, I am going to give them the happiness I believe they should have.
What do you think about the ending of The Giver? And have you read the companion books?