Which item in the list of duties frightened Jonas? Why did this frighten him?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In The Giver children are appointed to occupations when they turn twelve years old.  At that point, they participate in the Ceremony of Twelve and are given instructions they will use to begin their training.  When Jonas receives his instructions, many are typical directions on where to go and what to do.

Jonas is surprised that he will have no free time.  He is startled that he is exempted from restrictions against rudeness.  But it’s the last instruction that stops Jonas in his tracks.

You may lie.

This instruction sends Jonas reeling.  He wonders what makes him so special, that he may lie.  He wonders what he might lie about.  He considers that others might also have received the same instruction.

There are several reasons why the ability to lie frightens Jonas.  The Community tightly controls precision of language.  Saying the right thing and telling the truth is very important to them.  Jonas is also afraid because the ability to lie sets him apart.  He begins to realize just how different he is now, and how much his life is about to change.

gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Jonas is frightened to learn that he is allowed to lie. Throughout the structured society that Jonas lives in, citizens are forbidden to lie. At the end of Chapter 9, Jonas is reading over his duties, and the last rule states that he is allowed to lie. Jonas is shocked and frightened by this rule. Jonas understands the importance that the community places on using precise language in order to avoid unintentionally lying. Lying on purpose is a foreign concept to Jonas. Jonas then begins to wonder if all of the adults in the community were given the authority to lie. This thought overwhelms Jonas as he thinks about asking adults if they are allowed to lie. If adults were allowed to lie, Jonas realizes that everything he was told growing up could be compromised. Jonas fears that lying will alienate him from his community members. He is also uncomfortable going against such a significant rule throughout the community. Jonas is frightened that this privilege will set him apart from his family and neighbors. He has always associated lying with breaking the rules, which is a negative thing. 

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