In Jonas's community, no one makes choices. All choices about the community were made in the distant past when Sameness was created, and any additional changes involve painfully slow bureaucratic procedures. Without choice, no one suffers the consequences that come from making wrong choices, but they also don't experience the joys that come with making right ones. By sacrificing the freedom of choice, community members are guaranteed a stable, painless life. Consequently, the people lead pleasant—but robotic—lives.
When Jonas discovers memory, he realizes that choice is essential to human happiness. Choice, he learns, is power. He makes the first real choice in his life when he decides to escape from the community and take Gabriel with him. In making this significant and dangerous choice, he gives a windfall of pleasure and pain to the people he leaves behind, and gives the freedom of choice back to the community.