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Gabriel has a hard time sleeping through the night, and is small for his age. In the "perfect" society desired by the community, this is enough to "release" a child. Jonas' father, who works with the infants, thinks Gabriel is "sweet", and should be given a chance to survive--maybe more importantly, a chance to experience life in the community. The family has to sign contracts that they will not become too attached to the child...a difficult thing to ask of humans.
In chapter 1, during the nightly sharing of feelings, Jonas's father tells his family about his job that day in the Nurturing Center. As a nurturer, Jonas's father takes care of the newborn children until they are presented to family units during the Naming Ceremony that happens once a year. Only the strongest and most capable babies are given to family units. It is up to the Nurturers to decide if babies are given to families or released. Father shares his feelings by telling his family that this baby, Gabriel, doesn't sleep through the night and "he isn't growing as fast as he should" (9). He says that the committee is thinking about releasing the baby. Jonas's mother says that this must make him feel sad. Jonas and Lily nod sympathetically at the description of this feeling of sadness. Therefore, the members of Jonas's family feel sadness that a young child would be recommended for release before he has the chance to grow more and sleep through the night.
The Giver describes how lives of people will be in the future. Each family is only permitted to nurture and own two children as their own. Gabriel somehow needs to be released in that sense and also because he cannot sleep through the night without crying even after being given the extra year for him to learn how to sleep soundly.
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