How do the newchildren get their names?
Jonas learns more about his father's job as a Nurturer in chapter 2. Father shares with Jonas that the year their family received Lily, he could have found out her name before the Naming Ceremony from the Naming List that is stored in the office. He then admits that in an effort to help a new baby to improve more quickly (number thirty-six) he did go into the office to find out the name. Jonas is amazed to find out that his father broke a rule and asks what the baby's name is. Jonas's father says the following:
"His name—if he makes it to the Naming without being released, of course—to be Gabriel. So I whisper that to him when I feed him every four hours, and during exercise and playtime. If no one can hear me." (16)
The fact that newchildren only receive numbers and not names during the first year of their lives seems insensitive to our society. One possible reason for this practice might be that it helps Nurturers not to become emotionally attached to babies who may not pass the living requirements necessary to be given to a family to raise. Jonas's father, on the other hand, seeks out Gabriel's name because he cares and hopes that using the name will help the baby to become stronger and improve more quickly.
The fact that a committee chooses names for babies, and not parents who care for them, adds another layer of distance between lives in a loveless community; thus, distancing community members from participating in a major part of who they are as humans. This idea suggests that Jonas's community believes that a strong and healthy community succeeds without deep, emotional affection or attachment between its members. Fortunately, Jonas and the Giver unveil, and fight against, other disastrous practices and consequences of a society that chooses to live without true love for one another.
At the beginning of chapter 2, it is revealed how and when the newchildren receive their names in Jonas's society. Each year, fifty children are born, and the Nurturers take care of the children for one year. In December, the community holds The Ceremony of the Ones, where each child is distributed to their selected family unit and given a predetermined name.
During the "Naming," the committee reveals each child's name to the family and community. The committee not only picks the child's family unit but also names each child. The fact that the committee essentially creates family units and names the children indicates the extent of structure and organization throughout the community. There is literally no independence in the utopian society, and each citizen's identity is chosen by the committee.
For the first year of life, the newborn children are not given names. They are only referred to by their birth number. Only 50 children per year are born and taken care of in the nurturing center. That is where Jonas's father works. Each December the community has the Ceremony of One. That is when the nurturers announce the name of each one-year-old child to the community and announce to which family the child has been assigned.
The nurturers do not pick the names. In chapter 2 Jonas's father admitted that he took a peek at the list to know what Gabriel would be named. He must keep it a secret though, because it is against the rules to name a child before the naming ceremony.