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Yes, you are correct. Children in the community do receive their bicycles when they get to be nine years old.
There are a number of instances where the book tells us this. I don't know if yours has the same page numbers as mine, but:
- On page 13 we find out that all kids are given bikes when they turn nine. Before that, they aren't supposed to ride but are often allowed to ride by older kids.
- On page 14, Jake's father tells him about his own (the dad's) sister's Nines celebration where she got her bike and took out her hair ribbons.
So yes, that is when they get their bikes.
Yes, you are correct in stating that bicycles are given to the children who are ready for the Ceremony of Nine. This gesture is symbolic of the responsibility and freedom that these children are gaining access to as they grow up within the Community.
Theoretically speaking, children are not supposed to ride bicycles before this age, but it's a pretty common practice for older siblings and friends to allow their younger counterparts to give riding the bikes a whirl. In fact, Jonas's own father taught his sister how to ride before the appropriate age. This is one of the few rules within the Community that is practiced loosely; every other law seems to be very closely followed and honored by the residents.
The bicycle is a symbol of growing up and being given the freedom of going into the community. The children are given their bicycles when they turn 9. In the book "The Giver" the community has a rule that children are not allowed to learn to ride a bike before they turn 9. It is interesting to note that there is a bit of rebellion in Jonas' father because he had taught his sister to ride before she had turned nine. However, the rule was not taken very harshly as many brothers and sisters had taught each other how to ride before their time.
"She became a Nine that year and got her bicycle."(13)
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