In the novel, Jonas is a volunteer at the House of the Old.
There, his main job is to wash the elderly residents in the bathing room. We are told that the bathing room is warm, moist, and filled with the scent of cleansing lotions.
The first patient Jonas washes is Larissa. Before he begins, he presses the button at an empty tub. Immediately, the tub begins to fill with warm water. The text tells us that the water flow stops when a certain level has been reached.
When the bath is ready, Jonas helps Larissa into the tub. Once the elderly woman is comfortably settled in, Jonas squeezes cleansing lotion onto a clean sponge and begins to wash her.
Larissa relaxes as Jonas continues bathing her. The text tells us that the Old find bath-time relaxing and often fall asleep during bathing sessions. For his part, Jonas tries to use gentle strokes so as not to wake Larissa. He is surprised, however, when Larissa starts a conversation with him.
During their interaction, Larissa discusses Roberto, a resident who was released that morning. She tells Jonas that the occasion was a happy one. Larissa also makes comments about another resident, Edna, who was recently released. However, Larissa says that she found Edna's release ceremony boring. Both Larissa and Jonas share a few laughs about this.
As we read, we get the idea that many of the Old enjoy conversations during their baths. So, the volunteers not only assist in physical tasks, they also provide companionship to the elderly. The interaction between Larissa and Jonas ends on an interesting note, however. In response to Jonas's question about what release actually entails, Larissa admits that she doesn't know. So, Jonas's question and Larissa's answer contribute to suspense in the story and motivate us to continue reading.