The people in the society cannot actually see color; they have no memory of it. Jonas, who can see splashes of red on occasion, has a special gift in this area. The people can see shades of dark and light, however. While "almost every citizen in the community (has) dark eyes", there are "a few exceptions...Jonas himself, and a female Five", and the little boy child Gabriel all have "pale eyes". Light eyes are "a rarity...(and give) the one who (has) them a certain look...Depth...as if one were looking into the clear water of the river, down to the bottom, where things might lurk which hadn't been discovered yet". Light eyes in the community appear to indicate that the person who has them has special gifts of perception, and are likely candidates to one day become the "Receiver of Memory".
There are few mirrors in the society and although Jonas knows he has unusual eyes, he does not dwell on this fact, and is a little self-conscious when it is pointed out. The people in the society generally ignore this difference; "no one mention(s) such things; it (is) not a rule, but (is) considered rude to call attention to things that (are) unsettling or different about individuals". Contrary to accepted behavior, Lily, being young and impetuous, points out "with delight" that Gabriel "has funny eyes like (Jonas's)" as soon as she sees the baby. Jonas is offended, and decides that Lily needs to be taught the rules of etiquette on what should and should not be said (Chapter 3).