It is finally time for the Twelves.
Asher is ahead of Jonas. The Chief Elder, who speaks to the group, tells the audience about a time when Asher was younger. He had mixed up the words snack and smack and, as a result, had been smacked with the discipline wand. This did not only happen once, but repeatedly, over several weeks. Finally, Asher stopped talking. To the Chief Elder, the important thing is that Asher finally learned.
Jonas waits expectantly as those ahead of him are called. When it is the time to call Jonas, he is skipped over. He and his parents and friends do not know what to think. He waits and waits while the others are called.
Earlier, when we learned about Birthmothers, we saw how heartless the community can be. Now, again, we see their heartlessness. The way that Asher was treated when he mixed up two words was cruel. But, it was acceptable cruelty in the community.
When Jonas is skipped over, attention is drawn to him. Generally, in the community, it is not polite to draw attention to someone. And, if it does happen, the person who is the center of attention feels uneasy. But, the Chief Elder did not intentionally cause Jonas discomfort.
At the end of the giving of Assignments, the Chief Elder apologizes to those gathered there to see the Ceremony for causing them unease. The audience accepts the apology with one voice. She apologizes separately to Jonas, who was most affected, and he, of course, accepts her apology.
Instead of being assigned, Jonas has been selected, the Chief Elder tells those gathered.
Sitting in the middle of the Elders is a man who Jonas has never seen before. He has pale eyes like Jonas has. He has a beard. He is the Receiver of Memory. Jonas has been chosen to be the new Receiver.
The group is told that in the past a Receiver was chosen but that choice failed. A long time, ten years, has passed since then. Discussing the failure is uncomfortable for everyone, so it is not generally discussed.
The Chief Elder says that the position of Receiver is the position with the most honor. She says that the new Receiver will not be monitored as the other Twelves will be. But, he has already frequently been watched to insure that he is the correct choice.
The Chief Elder lists four essential attributes of a Receiver. They are intelligence, integrity, courage and wisdom. Courage is needed because there will be physical pain involved. This bit of information makes Jonas uneasy.
There is another requirement. The Receiver must have the Capacity to See Beyond. The Chief Elder says that no one who doesn't have the ability understands it. The current Receiver has assured them that Jonas already has that ability.
Jonas decides that he must admit to everyone that he does not have the necessary ability, whatever it is. As he looks out at the people, ready to confess his lack, that thing like with the apple happens again. The people change. Then they change back again. Jonas decides that perhaps he does have the required ability. Instead of saying that he does not have it, he tells everyone that he think that he does have it, although he still doesn't understand it.
As the crowd accepts his new position they begin to chant Jonas's name, quietly and slowly at first and then faster and louder. They are accepting him as Receiver in the same way that they accepted the newchild as Caleb.
Jonas's emotions are mixed as he looks forward to his new life. He is grateful and proud at the same time that he is fearful and uncertain regarding what lies ahead for him.
Avoiding causing anyone unease and apologizing when one does are important to the community. They help the community run smoothly. Running smoothly is a very important aim of the community. This smoothness is achieved at a great price, some of which we have already learned.
The older Receiver is the man who we will also think of as the Giver, the character after whom this book is named. His position has great honor attached to it. When we are told that he has pale eyes, we are also being told that he has depth like Jonas. This is also a slight hint, never developed, that they could possibly be related.
The community does not talk about the Receiver who ten years ago failed. This seems to be the way that the community always deals with failures and similar unpleasantness.
Notice how the constant monitoring that is done is always for the good of the person being monitored. It is also done for the good of the community as a whole. The people give up freedom and in return usually have a painless, stable life, unaware of what they are missing.