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In a word, books. In Chapter 10, Jonas is finally allowed into the dwelling area of The Receiver. At first, he finds nothing terribly remarkable:
It was not unlike his family unit's dwelling. Furniture was standard throughout the community: practical, sturdy, the function of each piece clearly defined. A bed for sleeping. A table for eating. A desk for studying.
But the most conspicuous difference was the books. In his own dwelling, there were the necessary reference volumes that each household contained: a dictionary...and the Book of Rules, of course.
But this room's walls were completely covered by bookcases, filled, which reached to the ceiling. There must have been hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of books, their titles embossed in shiny letters.
Knowledge, of course, is the most valuable thing one can possess, and it can be dangerous to those who wish to keep people under control. Keeping people ignorant keeps them oppressed. The slave owners of United States knew this, thus the prohibition on teaching slaves to read. Likewise, so too do the leaders of The Community.
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