What does Jonas learn about rule three from his training in chapters 19–20?

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The third rule for Jonas's assignment states,

"From this moment you are exempted from rules governing rudeness. You may ask any question of any citizen and you will receive answers" (Lowry, 68).

Jonas is initially perplexed by this rule and does not feel like he will ever take advantage of it. He mentions that he has no desire to be rude to others, even though he is officially permitted to be rude. However, the second part of the rule that allows Jonas to ask any questions and receive answers has a significant impact on his life.

During his training, Jonas freely asks the Giver many questions about their community and learns that there are numerous downsides to their completely uniform, organized, and safe society. Jonas asks the Giver questions about independent choices, why he cannot apply for release, and what life was like before Sameness. The most shocking discovery that Jonas experiences occurs when he inquires about what happens to citizens who are released, specifically the twin infant that his father recently released. Since it is required in Jonas's rules that the Giver answer his question, he shows Jonas a recording of the earlier release ceremony, which shocks and disgusts Jonas. Jonas proceeds to witness his father lethally inject a defenseless newborn baby and casually dispose of its body. After learning the truth about the term 'release,' Jonas immediately desires to flee his community.

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Jonas’s Rule number three states as follows:

“From this moment you are exempted from rules governing rudeness. You may ask any question of any citizen and you will receive answers.”

The phrasing of the rule is a bit disturbing, and it demonstrates the Jonas is becoming powerful.  He is further set apart.

When Jonas learns that his father is planning to release one of the newborn identical twins, he becomes curious about release and asks The Giver about it.  The Giver reminds him of the third rule, and his important position in the Community.

"Jonas, when you and I have finished our time together, you will be the new Receiver. You can read the books; you'll have the memories. You have access to everything. It's part of your training. If you want to watch a release, you have simply to ask."

The Giver decides that Jonas needs to find out what Release means.  This is a turning point in the story, the point of no return.  When Jonas finds out what Release means, he is in on the community’s dirty little secret.

 

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