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In Chapter Six, the depersonalizing environment of the society and the rigid self-identities that it imposes upon its residents are made apparent. Most alarming, of course, is how the people accept this environment. For instance, in the opening of the chapter, the children speak of the one thing that will identify them as in an age group: Lily is glad she will only have to wear her hair in braids one more year, and she looks forward to getting a bicycle next year. Jonas, then, affirms, "There are good things each year." But when he jokes about becoming a pilot to his mother, she fails to perceive any humor in his remarks, instead asking if he has remembered his pill that keeps his libido down.
As if in imitation of this regimented and simplified life that the residents of the society live, Lois Lowry's writing, too, is simplified in structure, bland, and regimented:
The entire community attended the Ceremony each year. for the parents, it meant two days' holiday from work; they sat together in the huge hall. Children sat with their groups until they went, one by one, to the stage.
However, at the same time that the society is orderly and safe, there is something ominous in this society as Gabriel is given a reprieve from being "released." For, Jonas reflects that if Gabriel is "released" never again will he see the baby because he will be sent "Elsewhere." These disinfectant words suggest that something is being hidden from the members of the society. Further in the chapter, as the different age groups are called, Jonas observes his mother and father applauding "dutifully."
When Jonas sits with his other "groupmates" during the break for lunch, Lowry creates some foreshadowing that all is not perfect: as his group stands anxiously, one boy named Asher tells Jonas about a boy who wanted to be an engineer, but was made a Sanitation Laborer, instead. The next day, he jumped into the river and swam to join another community, Asher continues, and "Nobody ever saw him again." But, Jonas disputes the truth of this story because, he says, his father heard the same story when he was twelve. Asher counters,
"...if you don't fit in with the rules, you can apply for Elsewhere and be released." My mother says that once, about ten years ago, someone applied and was gone the next day.,,,,Not even a ceremony of Release."
As he reflects upon Asher's words Jonas, ironically, is not worried, and he thinks to himself, "How could anyone not fit in? The community was so meticulously ordered, the choices so carefully made....by the Committee of Elders."
The main importance of chapter 6 is that it is when the ceremony begins. Jonas' father is part of the ceremony because as Nurturer, he partakes in the Naming, which is where families get their children. Gabriel isn't part of the Naming because he isn't healthy enough and should be released from the community as a result. However, after an appeal from Jonas' father, Gabriel is given another year to develop. He is to be kept with Gabriel's family, but each member of the family has to sign an agreement stating they will not become attached to the young one.
One family recently lost a four year old boy named Caleb, so a Ceremony of Loss occurs. The entire community chants "Caleb," decreasing in volume with each saying of the name. Then, the community chants "Caleb" again, except they get louder with every saying of his name this time, and the family basically gets a new Caleb.
The community goes to lunch before the Ceremony of Twelve occurs. Asher tells Jonas of a story of how someone did not like the job they were assigned to and applied for "Elsewhere." However, Jonas isn't sure he believes this because he can't imagine the Elders would ever make the wrong decision.
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He receives the first memory.
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