Jonas is portrayed in ways that allow the reader to sympathize with his situation and feelings at several times and on varied levels.
During the ceremony to give Assignments to the group of twelve-year-olds including Jonas, he is left out of the expected numerical order for recognition. This is confusing and highly embarrassing for Jonas; any reader who has ever been the last one chosen for an activity will identify with the emotions he has.
He hunched his shoulders and tried to make himself smaller in the seat. He wanted to disappear, to fade away, not to exist. He didn't dare to turn and find his parents in the crowd. He couldn't bear to see their faces darkened with shame.
When Jonas receives his Assignment and reads the information he is given, his reaction combines confusion and discomfort. The directions presented for his future conduct as the new Receiver of Memories are so completely opposite the behavioral guidelines and expectations he has known to this point in his life. Readers who have had to adjust to new locations and new activities will sympathize with Jonas's turmoil.
What if others-adults-had, upon becoming Twelves, received in their instructions the same terrifying sentence? What if they had all been instructed: You may lie?
As Jonas comes to understand more deeply the effect that giving up the memories has had upon the community as a whole, he begins to search for some way to restore some of the lost richness of life for the others. Readers who come to agree with his perception of life in the community as being sterile and devoid of emotion, and that emotion is a good thing, will support Jonas in making plans to change the community's pattern of thought.
Things could change, Gabe. Things could be different. I don't know how, but there must be some way for things to be different. There could be colors. And grandparents. And everybody would have memories. You know about memories.