The Climax & Ending of The Giver

Instructor: Liz Breazeale
A book's climax and its ending - two of the most important and memorable parts of its plot! In this lesson, discuss these two elements and their meanings in Lois Lowry's young adult classic, The Giver.

What is a Story's Climax?

You're almost finished with the book. The plot is really ramping up, and you just can't put it down. You're turning pages like a maniac, trying to figure out where this whole situation is going to end up, and you've made it to the most exciting part! Wait, what on earth just happened? That was crazy! Where is the story going to wind up now?

You probably know what this feels like. But what does this part of the book, the 'Oh my gosh!' event, really mean in terms of plot? Well, this is the story's climax, its decisive moment, or turning point. It's also referred to as the crisis. From this point on, the story is moving toward its resolution.

In this lesson, you're going to examine the climax and ending of Lois Lowry's The Giver. You're also going to look at some diverging opinions and interpretations about the ambiguous (sort of controversial) ending, so buckle up!

The Climax

At the crisis moment of The Giver, Jonas discovers a pretty horrifying secret about his father, a man he loves and admires, and a man he knows is loving and nurturing. Jonas' father actually murders babies. Okay, so the guy doesn't really know what he's doing. In Jonas' dystopian world, sometimes the elderly and the people who can't contribute to society are released. This applies to overly fussy or small babies, too.

In the climax of the book, Jonas finds out that his father, in releasing a newborn baby, is actually euthanizing it, or killing it. His father has no idea what he's doing, and he thinks he's sending the baby off to live in a happier place. But Jonas, armed with memories of death and pain that nobody else has, knows exactly what's up. He watches in absolute horror as his father euthanizes a baby and this is something he knows he can never forgive or forget.

This scene is the climax of the book because it sets in motion everything that comes after it. Jonas is irrevocably changed by this moment, and he knows, without a doubt, that he can't live in a community that not only condones this practice, but legally obligates it. After this moment, Jonas and The Giver plan Jonas' escape from the community, making it a turning point.

The climax comes when Jonas realizes his father kills babies through lethal injection

The Ending

Now, although everyone can agree on exactly where the ending of this book is, there's some controversy about what the ending actually means. It all might depend on whether or not you're an optimist. Anyway, you can be your own judge, but here are the nuts and bolts of it:

Jonas and Gabe, freezing in the woods after escaping from the community, have almost given up hope of living. But wait! Jonas spies a red sled atop a hill, just like the one from the first memory The Giver transferred to him. He and Gabe ride the sled down the hill into a town full of bright houses and warmth, and their survival is assured.

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