As Jonas and Gabriel continue to travel, the road they have been following narrows and gets rough. The landscape starts to change and become irregular. Jonas trips and twists an ankle on the unfamiliar terrain, but also sees a bird and waterfalls and wildflowers for the first time. The sight of these new things is thrilling, yet at the same time Jonas worries he won't be able to protect Gabriel. He manages to forage some berries and catch fish in a makeshift net, but it isn't enough to curb their hunger.
The changing landscape shows that Jonas has escaped Sameness. Jonas is actively living what he has only learned about through memories—survival through suffering. Now he sees that choices have consequences—sometimes deadly consequences—and experiences fear, pain, and hunger for real, not as memories.
Jonas wonders if by leaving he has sentenced them to starve. But he knows that if he had stayed he would have been starved of feelings and that Gabriel would have been killed.
Jonas must also reflect on his choices. In this case, he knows that uncertainty is better than certain death.
It starts to rain, which lasts for two days. The rain is not as pleasant as it was in his memories. The cold, wet, and hunger make Gabriel cry. Jonas cries too, not because he is afraid he will die, but because if he dies he won't be able to save Gabriel. Yet he has a feeling that Elsewhere is nearby, and continues on.
This is Jonas's greatest act of selflessness and his most important life lesson. He has gained the maturity to love Gabriel more than himself, giving him the strength to go on.