It is important for the Community to have a person who can "see beyond", a Receiver, to hold all the memories of the past, so that they will not have to bear the pain of them.
The creators of the Community have fashioned a society based on "sameness". Everything is controlled, "predictable...painless"; and the result is a world shrouded in neutral grayness, devoid of color, and of anything that can cause variation. Even the weather is controlled; there is no sunshine, and everyday is the same. The landscape also has been leveled, and hills and valleys are beyond the people's experience. The objective behind the creation of the Community was a world where life is easy. The people make no choices, because if they did, they might make wrong choices, and have to suffer consequences which might be unpleasant.
It is the Receiver's job to hold the memories of the world as it was before, to "see beyond "sameness". Sometimes, when the Committee of Elders must make a decision for which the use of memories of the way things used to be might be helpful, the Receiver might be consulted for advice. This happens rarely however, but the real importance the Receiver has for the Community was made evident ten years previously, when, with the Release of the Receiver-in-Training, the memories returned temporarily to the people. Chaos ensued, and the people suffered terribly with memories from which they had long been sheltered and could no longer see, memories of hunger and loneliness and violence and pain. The Receiver's job is "to contain all that pain...and knowledge", and to bear the suffering so that the people will not have to (Chapter 13).