The color-coded boxes under "Analysis & Themes" below (which look like this: ) make it easy to track the themes throughout the work. Each color corresponds to one of the themes explained in the Themes section of this LitChart.
Analysis & Themes
After sharing, Jonas's parents ask to speak with Jonas alone. Jonas's father tries to calm his fears by telling him that people are rarely disappointed in their Assignments, because the Committee of Elders monitors Elevens' interest so as to place them where they would best be able to do good work for the community. Jonas remembers the Committee monitoring his group of Elevens, but he is unsure what kind of job he will be given. Most children are given jobs they show interest in, and so suspect their Assignments ahead of time. But Jonas has been floating from one interest to another.
That the Committee takes personal interests into account when assigning jobs suggests that they want what's best for their citizens. The Committee and the citizens agree that the Committee will know what's best for the citizens better than the citizens themselves will. That among all his friends, only Jonas has yet to settle on one interest is the first indication that he might be different from the other citizens.
Jonas and his parents discuss the annual ceremonies. At the ceremony of One, the 50 babies in that year's group are given names and assigned to families so that each family unit eventually has one boy and one girl. Whether a baby is already walking or just born does not matter. All babies born within that year are considered one year old.
Birthday's mark an individual's growth and development. By placing all children into a single group that all become One, Two, Three, and so on at the same time, the community emphasizes the group over the individual.
Jonas's father reveals that he has actually peeked at the name of the newchild about whom he is concerned, because he thought that calling the baby by his name, Gabriel, might help him to thrive. Jonas is surprised his father would break the rules.
Jonas's father is further established as a caring man. Jonas's surprise at his father's rule-breaking indicates that as of now Jonas is perfectly happy in his community.
They continue to discuss the ceremonies. At Eight, children's stuffed animals are taken away. At Nine, they are given bicycles. At Twelve, they are given their jobs, which they will hold for life. Rules are made by the Committee of Elders, and rules are very hard to get changed. One of the only rules ever broken is when children are taught to ride bicycles before the appropriate time, a rule that Jonas's father broke by teaching Lily how to ride a bicycle.
Responsibilities as well as pleasures are allotted at specific times regardless of a child's development, and adulthood occurs at a pre-determined age, when children are assigned jobs. In other words, all children are forced to fit into the same mold, eliminating individuality.
Jonas's father tells him that after the Ceremony of Twelve, when children get their Assignments, age is not important. Also, Jonas's father explains that Jonas's group of friends will likely change after Twelve, since he will be spending time with people who have the same jobs as him.
When children turn Twelve, they gain a means of differentiation—their job—but they must give up another in return—their age. Also notice how little this society values the bonds of friendship.
Lily comes into the room and asks for her comfort object, a stuffed elephant. Jonas's mother tells her that once she is an Eight her comfort object will be taken away, so she should get used to sleeping without it.
The existence of "comfort objects" in a community that's completely safe suggests that fear is an innate human emotion. But this society forces all children to face these fears at the same time, regardless of their individual development.
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• See quotes from Chapter 2