Chapters summary

Chapter 1

Setting: On the way home, at Jonas' family home 

Time: End of November

Characters: Jonas, Jonas' father, mother, and sister Lily

Summary: As 11-year-old schoolboy Jonas rides his bicycle home, he tries to find the best word to describe his current feeling about something special that will happen in December (1%).

Jonas remembers an aircraft he heard last year when it flew over the community, causing a great deal of anxiety and making him experience fear. A voice through the loudspeakers instructed community members to go to leave their bicycles where they were and head for the nearest building (9%).

 Eventually, the voice from the loudspeaker gave the all-clear again and announced that a trainee pilot has made a navigational error and had steered off course. The pilot was to be punished and "released", which Jonas knows is the worst punishment in the community (18%).

Jonas then thinks about his best friend Asher, who is often late for school and doesn't express himself too well. The community has a clear rule: for an offense, like being late, you have to apologize to the group, then the group has to accept this apology with a certain formula (27-36%).

Jonas eventually comes to the conclusion that the word "frightened" is too strong to describe his feelings regarding the coming events in December. He adds that he is rather "eager, and "excited," but also "nervous," so he concludes that "apprehensive" is the best word to describe his condition. He belongs to the group of "Elevens" who are all excited about what is about to happen to them.

At Jonas's home, after dinner, the family practices the community ritual "the evening telling of feelings". Each family member describes his or her feelings and the rest of the family reflects on these statements (36%-100%).

First up is Jonas’ seven-year-old sister Lily. She expresses her anger about the children from another community who visited her class and did not follow the rules of the community (45-55%). Lily’s parents help her realize that the strange children probably follow different norms and probably do not know the rules of their community. 

The family tries to help Lily get rid of her feeling of anger. Finally, Lily shows understanding for the visitors' behavior. Eventually, she feels sorry for the boy she was upset with because she understands that he must have felt unsafe in the new community since he didn't know the rules. Moreover, she now regrets that she acted so angrily (55-74%).

Next up is Jonas' father. Jonas' father is a Nurturer and is responsible for caring for the newborn children in the community, which are called newchildren. He tells of a newchild who is not developing well enough and is not sleeping through the nights. If this does not change, then he will have to be released. The Father is worried about the baby. He therefore wants to ask the committee for permission to let the boy stay with Jonas' family for a while to develop better. All family members agree to this (64-82%).

In the course of the discussion, it is told that most Nurturers on the night shift do not have a spouse. Only people with certain qualities are assigned a spouse in the community. Each couple is also only allowed two children, a girl and a boy (82%).

Finally, it is Jonas' turn, but he actually does not want to express his feelings that evening. However, he knows that the rules of the community dictate that he must share his emotional state with his family. 

Jonas then confesses that he is worried. "The Ceremony of Twelve" will take place soon, and Jonas will be assigned his future profession (p.82-100%). The parents respond understandingly to his concerns and send Lily out of the room so they can talk to him alone (100%).

Chapter 2

Setting: At Jonas' family home (The second chapter directly follows the scene in the first chapter)

Time: Late November, the same evening

Characters: Jonas, Jonas' father, mother, and sister Lily

Summary: Jonas' mother and father talk to him about "The Ceremony of Twelve". Every year in December, the status of the children in the community changes gradually at a ceremony. For example, when they are one year old, they receive their name in "The Ceremony for the Ones" and are assigned to a family.

 In the context, all children born in that year count as ones. A year's group normally includes 50 children, but it counts fewer children when one of them who does not meet the requirements is released (10%). The assigned child and name are not chosen by the family (10%). Jonas' family remembers the year in which they received Lily, after they had made an application.

Jonas' father confesses that he secretly looked at the list of names for the newchildren in the Nurturing Center so that he could address the child he was worried about by his name, which is Gabriel. He hopes that naming him correctly will help his development. Jonas is surprised that his father has disobeyed the community's rules (10-20%).

There are also talks about the "Nine Ceremony", in which children are given a new bicycle when they reach the age of nine. The rules state that the children are not allowed to ride bicycles until then. However, most children break this rule and learn to ride a bicycle from siblings or friends beforehand (30%). 

The Committee of Elders is already discussing allowing children to have bicycles at an earlier age. However, such deliberations usually take a long time and therefore it is very difficult to change a rule in the community. The Receiver is asked by the Elders for advice on important decisions (30-40%). Jonas, however, has never seen the Receiver.

The Father then tells of the "Ceremony of Twelve", which is the most important of all the annual ceremonies (40%). During this ceremony, it is announced which Assignments the young people will pursue. This decision is made by the Committee of Elders. The children themselves have no say in the matter. No one knows what future awaits them before the ceremony.

However, some can guess, especially if they have a certain ability or inclination towards a certain field. Jonas’ father guessed that he would become a Nurturer (40%). To make their decision, the Elders observe the children in the year before the decision and talk to their teachers to get an idea of their individual talents (50%).

After their Eight Ceremony, the youths begin to complete volunteer hours in various fields, during which they are also observed (40%). Anxiously, Jonas asks if his parents know anyone who was disappointed with his Assignment. His father reassures him that although some were surprised, they were not displeased because the Elders always think very carefully before making their decision (60%).

The Mother explains that the "Ceremony of Twelve " is the last annual official ceremony, during which new duties, gifts, and rights are assigned to the children. After that, the members of the community stop counting the years and their age becomes insignificant. She tells Jonas that he will no longer have any free time, since he has to start his training right after school. He will certainly meet new friends and spend less time with his old ones.

Jonas, however, is sure that he will remain friends with Asher (60%). He is worried that he will not have time to play anymore, but his parents assure him that he will have fun when he is Twelve and after (60%). Jonas is worried to learn what career his best friend Asher will receive because he is "such fun" and "doesn’t really have any serious interests." (70%).

Lily interrupts the conversation because she wants her comfort object, a stuffed elephant, which helps her go to sleep. Children receive such a comfort object after birth and are allowed to keep it until they are eight years old. 

After that, they have to give it back so that it can be given to a newchild (90%). Jonas refers to the elephant and the bear (Jonas' comfort object when he was Lilly’s age) as " imaginary creatures" because they do not know these animals exist (90%). At the end of the chapter, Jonas is still worried about what his future Assignment will be (100%).

Chapter 3

Setting: At Jonas' family home 

Time: Just before December, the next day

Characters: Jonas, Jonas' father, mother and sister Lily, Gabriel

Summary: Jonas's father brings home his protégé. Lily notices that little Gabriel has light eyes, like Jonas, which is very rare and unusual. Jonas, however, is annoyed by Lily's remark, as it is a custom in the community not to draw attention to a member's distinguishing features that set them apart from the others (1%). 

Lily adds that Jonas and Gabriel may have the same Birthmother, and Jonas thinks about how light eyes affect the observer. In the community it is not forbidden to look at yourself in a mirror, but it is not common because there are few of them (14%).

Lily is excited about the baby and wishes to become a Birthmother later. She has heard that a Birthmother has a privileged position: a lot of free time and good food. Her mother, however, reprimands her and explains that Birthmothers do not have a respected social position. They only live in the Birthing Center for three years and then have to do hard physical labor (29%).

The Father suggests to Lily that she should wish to become a Nurturer if she wants to work with babies. After all, a Birthmother never sees her child again after she gives birth (43%). Jonas thinks that the Assignment as a Speaker would be more suitable for Lily, because she always talks so much. He is irritated by Gabriel's light eyes and keeps his distance. He pretends not to be interested in the baby at all (14-43%).

Jonas remembers of an incident in which he was reprimanded by the loudspeaker voice. He had taken an apple home from the playground, which is forbidden (57%). He had been playing together with his friend Asher and they were throwing the apple back and forth when it had suddenly changed for a brief moment. 

Therefore, Jonas had taken the apple home to examine it further (57-71%). The incident had been very unpleasant for Jonas at the time. He now tries to shake off the memory of it. He respects the strict rules of the community and shows remorse for his rare infractions.

 The family spends a quiet evening together at home, as is customary in the community. The only unusual thing is that they have the newchild with the pale eyes with them (100%).

Chapter 4

Setting: In the community, the House of the Old

Time: Late November or early December

Characters: Jonas, attendant at the House of the Old, Asher, Fiona, a Caretaker, the Old, old woman Larissa

Summary: Jonas is looking for his friend Asher during his volunteer hours because he wants to work with him. He thinks about how exciting it was to choose the volunteer hours, because it was the first free decision Jonas was allowed to make(0%).

Jonas rides his bike through the community past the row houses and the various centers to the House of the Old. There he wants to meet Asher and Fiona, an Eleven girl Jonas likes a lot (25%). 

Jonas has to sign in with the attendant so that his volunteer hours will be counted. The young people have to complete a certain number of hours in order to be assigned a profession. Jonas thinks of an incident in which a boy had not done enough hours, which had been a disgrace (38%).

The House of the Old is described as slow and peaceful (38%). The old people seem to be doing well there. They are well cared for (38-63%). Jonas finds Asher and Fiona in the bathing room, where the two teenagers are helping the old people bathe (63%). Jonas is already well acquainted with the tasks in the House of the Old and in the bathing room, so he approaches an old woman named Larissa and helps her bathe (63%).

In the community, it is forbidden for people to see each other naked. An exception is made for old people and babies , because they have to be cared for by other people (63%). While Jonas washes the old woman, Larissa tells of a release party that was held that day for a man named Roberto.

Before the Old are released, a farewell party is held for them, and it is attended by the other residents of the House of the Old. Children are not allowed to attend. During the ceremony, a story is told about the life of the person in question, then a toast is recited. After everyone has sung the anthem together, another good-bye speech is given (75-100%).

Jonas asks Larissa if she knows what happens to a person after they are released. But Larissa has to disappoint him. She thinks that their fate is probably only known by the committee, the leaders of the community. However, Roberto looked happy when he left (100%).

Chapter 5

Setting: Jonas' family home

Time: Late November or early December

Characters: Jonas, Jonas' father, Jonas' mother, Lily, Gabriel

Summary: At the beginning of the fifth chapter, another ritual of the community is described: the morning ritual Dream-telling. The family members tell about the dreams they had the previous night. Together, the family then analyzes these dreams. Children are allowed to participate in this ritual when they have become Threes (0-17%).

Lily and her mother have both dreamed about breaking the rules (0-17%). The Father did not dream that night, which is why it is Jonas's turn next. Jonas rarely dreams or can remember his dreams. Therefore, it is unusual that he had a dream last night (0-17%). 

The dream is very unpleasant for him, but he knows that the rules dictate that he must tell the whole dream. In his dream, Jonas was standing bare-chested in front of a bathtub. Fiona was also there, and he wanted her to undress and get into the bathtub so that he could wash her (33-50%).

After Jonas reports his dream, the parents exchange a glance and quickly the Father heads off to work with Lily. The Mother stays behind with Jonas. She explains to him that the dream was his first sexual arousal which she refers to as Stirrings, and that it is quite normal at his age, but that it is not wanted in the community. Therefore, all members who are old enough take pills to conquer these emotional outbursts: Sexual sensations are thus medically suppressed (50-83%).

On the way to school, Jonas thinks again briefly about his dream and that he actually liked these Stirrings. However, he notices how the sensation becomes weaker and finally disappears. The pill is already working (100%).

Chapter 6

Setting: Jonas's family home; in the community; the Auditorium

Time: First day of December Ceremonies

Characters: Jonas, Jonas' father, Jonas' mother, Lily, Asher, Fiona, all members of the community

Summary: Jonas' family goes to the community's Auditorium, where the two-day December Ceremonies are held (0-18%). All members of the community participate in this gathering, and those who work even get two days off for it.

The children take their seats in their age groups (18%). Jonas sees his father among the babies given to families this year and thinks of Gabriel. Jonas' father has obtained an unusual exception for Gabriel. The baby is allowed to spend one more year in the Nurturing Center until the decision is made by the Committee of Elders whether he can be assigned to a family or will be released. 

Gabriel is allowed to continue spending the night with Jonas' family, however, all family members had to sign that they will not claim him and will release him to another family in one year without any problems (27%). Jonas, however, comforts himself with the thought that they will still see Gabriel as long as he remains in the community. If Gabriel is released, he would be sent to "Elsewhere" and they would never meet him again (27%).

The first ceremony begins. The new babies are distributed to their families (36%). Jonas' friend Fiona gets a brother. A family receives a "replacement child" after their first baby, named Caleb, drowned in the river. However, it is extremely rare for anything to happen to a child in the community because everything is so safe there and all the members care about the children. The replacement child is given the same name as the deceased child and thus actually becomes the new Caleb (36-46%).

Jonas finds the rest of the ceremonies quite boring. He only pays attention again when his sister Lily goes on stage and is appointed Eighth. She receives a new jacket with smaller buttons and pockets where she can store belongings for the first time. She will also begin her volunteer hours this year (46%). The first day of the December Ceremonies ends with the Eighth Ceremony (46%).

The next day starts directly with the Nines Ceremony, where the new bicycles are awarded (55%). At the Ceremony of Ten, the children's hair is cut on stage. The boys and girls now wear shorter hair (73%). At the Ceremony of Eleven, the children are given new clothes to match their growth (73%). 

Jonas' age group nervously spends lunch together before the Ceremony of Twelve. Asher recounts the story that is told repeatedly in the community. Once, a boy was assigned a completely different profession than he had wanted. Therefore, he says, he swam across the river and joined a new community.

 Jonas notes, however, that no one knows whether this story really happened (82%). Asher replies that it would be in the rules, however, that one could apply to go to "Elsewhere," meaning that one would be released. His mother told him that someone had actually done that once ten years ago (91%).

Jonas thinks that they live in a good community. Everything is well organized and well t...

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