Father tries to sooth Jonas's anxiety about the Ceremony of Twelve by telling him that every year the ceremony in December is exciting. Every December brings a change for every child.

Jonas remembered back to when Lily was a One and received her name. That was the day that they received her. All the babies go to their families on that day. Some are beginning to walk already while some were just recently born.

Father tells Jonas that, although he was not supposed to do so, he looked up the name planned for the boy he hopes to bring home in the evenings. It is Gabriel, or Gabe.

In the past Father did something else that he was not supposed to do. He taught his own sister to ride his bicycle before she was given one as a Nine. There is a rule against that, but unlike most other rules, that is a rule that is frequently broken.

A committee was studying the rule regarding teaching those who were not yet a Nine to ride a bicycle. But, committees take a long, long time to make rule-changing decisions. Some more serious changes have to be reviewed by the Receiver, who is the most important Elder.

Father tells Jonas that, while he was very excited at his Ceremony of Twelve, it was different than with Jonas because he was fairly sure that he would be chosen to be a Nurturer. He had shown by the free time he had spent with the newchildren where his interest was. But, with Jonas it is not the same. And, his apprehension is increased by the knowledge that there are some Assignments with which he would be disappointed. Some children are chosen to be, for example, Laborers. Father doesn't think that Jonas has cause for concern. Father reminds him that there is an appeal process. That causes laughter because appeals are studied by a committee. It would take a very long time to get an answer to an appeal.

The way that Father had spent a lot of time with the newchildren did help the committee decide that he should be a Nurturer. Jonas was aware that he and the other Elevens had been observed this year by members of the committee. The committee members had then met to discuss what would be the job for each Eleven.

Jonas's thoughts turn to Asher, his best friend, and what Assignment Asher might receive. Father reminds Jonas that after the Ceremony of Twelve his group of friends will likely change. He will be with the other Twelves chosen for the same job much of the time in the future.

The conversation ends when Lily comes back into the room wanting her comfort object. Mother reminds her that when she turns eight at the December ceremony she will give up her comfort object. Comfort objects are supposedly imaginary animals, like elephants and bears.


The community tries to shelter children from things that might upset them. We see this in the use of words for unpleasantness that obscure the real meanings. And, we see this when Mother and Father ask Lily to leave the room before discussing Jonas's apprehensions about the Ceremony of Twelve with him.

We are told that, while the community rarely breaks rules, many break the rule forbidding them to teach children to ride a bicycle before they are a Nine. Why is this? Could it be because they think that the rule will someday be removed by the committee studying it? Or, that it would have been removed already, if the committee were not so slow?

We see several examples of Father's willingness to break rules. We hear of how once, when he was young, he broke the rule forbidding him to teach his sister to ride a bike before she was a Nine. And, we hear that he looked at the Naming list to find out Gabriel's name before anyone was allowed to know his name. So far, Father seems like a really nice man.

Jonas remembers noticing the committee monitoring the Elevens. On the one hand that seems like a very intrusive thing to do. But, as with other snooping that members of the community do, this monitoring seems meant to bring about a good result.

It is somewhat astounding that the community members do not know that there were once real animals like elephants and bears. Why were these animals done away with in the past? Was it a safety issue? Was it because they seemed to contribute nothing to the community? Was it because they were thought to use up scarce resources?

Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".