How do people receive an assignment in The Giver?

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the community featured in The Giver, The Ceremony of Twelve is the incredibly significant event in which young people receive their "Assignment," or the job they will perform until they enter the House of the Old. It is also the final ceremony, since, "[a]fter Twelve, age isn't important." In order to attend the ceremony, an individual must have completed all of his or her volunteer hours (which is calculated at the Hall of Open Records). The opening speech of the Ceremony of Twelve honors the years of standardization that the group has undergone, but recognizes the importance of celebrating the individual differences which have led to the selection of Assignments. Each person is assigned a number, and when this number is called, the person is given his or her Assignment, as well as words of praise for his or her skills.

At Jonas' Ceremony of Twelve, his number is skipped, only for it to be revealed at the end of the ceremony that he has not been assigned; rather, he has been "selected" as the next Receiver of Memory, a rare occupation since there is only ever one Receiver at a time. Jonas is recognized for being in possession of intelligence, integrity, courage, wisdom, and the Capacity to See Beyond. While Jonas is filled with great pride and gratitude upon receiving this news, he is also very scared, unsure of the future that is in store for him. 

mthibodeau eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Jonas' world, there is a Ceremony every year in December during which the children are given different privileges (like riding a bike) or status signifiers (like a two button jacket), depending on their "age".  It is during The Ceremony of Twelve that each child is told what their assignment will be.  The assignments are determined by The Elders, who closely observe the child for several years before the time of the Ceremony of Twelve in order to find the best fit for their assignment.