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
On the first day of the two-day December ceremony, Assignments for Ones through Eights are given out. Jonas learns that because his father pleaded Gabriel's case to the Committee, Gabriel is allowed one extra year of nurturing to gain weight. He will remain at home with Jonas's family, although the family is required to sign a pledge saying they won't get attached to the newchild.
During the ceremony, the Chief Elder, a female, names Ones and gives them to families. One child is named Caleb and is given as a replacement child to a family whose Four, also named Caleb, had fallen into the river and drowned. Jonas remembers the Ceremony of Mourning for the drowned boy, in which everyone murmured the lost child's name softer and softer until it seemed to fade away entirely. When the new Caleb is assigned to the family, there is a Ceremony of Replacement, in which everyone chants the name "Caleb" louder and louder.
The Ceremony of Loss ensures that emotions are dealt with and then stifled, the same way that the pill stifles sexual feelings. Because families aren't actually related, strong family bonds don't exist. And because the community ensures that no one is truly unique, everyone is completely replaceable. As a result, no one in the community feels any genuine grief when someone dies unexpectedly.
When a different newchild is assigned to a family and named Roberto, Jonas realizes that names are given out to replace the names of those who were recently released. This idea makes Jonas uncomfortable.
The next day, as the ceremony continues, Sevens are given jackets that button up the front. Prior to this age, children have jackets that fasten at the back, forcing them to rely on others to fasten them, and in turn to learn to depend on others and the group in general. Eights like Lily are given jackets with pockets, so that they can be responsible for their own possessions.
At ten, girls' braids are cut off and boys' hair is cut shorter so that all boys and girls have the same haircuts. Jonas knows Lily is excited not to have to wear her hair ribbons anymore, when she reaches that age.
During lunch, the Elevens worry about their assignments. Asher worries he'll get Sanitation, and tells Jonas that he once heard that someone in Sanitation swam the river and left to join another community. Jonas has never heard of someone joining another community, but he knows that someone who feels that they don't fit in can apply for release.
Jonas also can't imagine someone feeling as if they don't fit into the community. He knows that the Committee considers all decisions very carefully, especially Assignments and Matching of Spouses. The Matching can take years, and then the couple is monitored for three years before they can apply for a child.
More help on this section...
• See quotes from Chapter 6