5. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.
These are the last lines of The Giver. The music that welcomes Jonas to the Christmas-celebrating town is the first he has ever heard in his life, and it signals not only his arrival in Elsewhere, where he can live life to the fullest as he wants to, but also his awakening to a new kind of perception, one that until this moment has been totally unavailable to him. This new sensory gift of music is a symbol of hope and regeneration. Though he has left the Giver and his store of memories, Jonas will experience countless exciting and terrifying things in his new home, things that exist in the real world and not just in memory. The singing also welcomes him to a new, different community. Here he will find human voices raised in beautiful music, ready to accept him and all of his differences and to appreciate his beauty and love.
The origin of the music that Jonas hears behind him is as ambiguous as the ending of the novel itself. It could be the music that Jonas’s old community learns to make after the Giver helps them to endure the memories that Jonas left behind him, an unmistakable signal that their plan worked and worked well. At the same time, the music may be merely an echo of the music playing in the town, reminding Jonas that behind him his community is perhaps discovering the delight of music at the same moment that he does. Alternatively, both the music behind and in front of him could be figments of his imagination, coming to him as he freezes to death with Gabriel on an empty hill. It could also simply represent Jonas’s close link to the Giver, who delights in music and wants to share most of his pleasures with Jonas.