Jonas's society is founded on the principles of Sameness and completely controlled by the Committee of Elders. Individuality and personal freedoms do not exist, and conformity is required. Privacy and independent thought are other elements that are prohibited in Jonas's community, and the committee maintains a controlled, organized environment by requiring families to participate in certain rituals during mealtimes.
In the opening chapter of the novel, Jonas and his family participate in the ritual of sharing of feelings at the end of their evening meal. During this ritual, each family member explains their feelings to each other while the other family members listen and give advice. This ritual is similar to group therapy and allows citizens to vent their emotions. It also gives each citizen a voice and ensures that nobody is keeping secrets.
Another ritual is the telling of dreams, which takes place at breakfast every morning. During this mealtime ritual, each family member explains their dreams from the previous night while the other members attempt to interpret the meaning of the dream. This ritual ensures that citizens are not harboring negative, subconscious feelings, which could be potentially dangerous. During the telling of dreams, Jonas explains that he dreamt about wanting to bathe with Fiona naked, which indicates that he is experiencing puberty. Jonas is then required to take pills for the Stirrings after he tells his parents about the dream. Through these mealtime rituals, the committee is able to control the family dynamics and ensure that each citizen's inner feelings are known to others.