Roberto is an old man who is released.
Roberto is a minor character in the book who never actually appears within his pages. By the time Roberto is introduced to the reader, he is already dead.
When Jonas is participating in volunteer hours in the House of the Old with Fiona, he hears about the release of Roberto from Larissa. She explains to Jonas that Roberto has just been released, and it was a wonderful ceremony. This catches Jonas’s attention, because he remembers the old man.
"I knew Roberto!" Jonas said. "I helped with his feeding the last time I was here, just a few weeks ago. He was a very interesting man." (Ch. 4)
In Jonas’s community, people only have a family while they are raising children. Then the adults go to live with the Childless Adults while they can still work, and when they get old they move to the House of the Old. After a time, they are released.
The old are treated like children. While they are pampered and cared for, they are also smacked with discipline wands for misbehaving. After their period of time in the House of the Old, they are released.
Larissa tells Jonas that Roberto had a wonderful and important life, and she enjoyed his ceremony. During the ceremony, they explain all about the old person’s life before releasing him or her. Jonas asks Larissa where the Old go when they are released.
"I don't know. I don't think anybody does, except the committee. .He just bowed to all of us and then walked, like they all do, through the special door in the Releasing Room. But you should have seen his look. Pure happiness, I'd call it." (Ch. 4)
Jonas has no idea what release is when he first hears about it. He does not realize that the old people are being euthanized. Later, when Jonas does learn what release means, he also learns that his friend Fiona has been trained how to do it.
We only learn about release in bits and pieces. Most readers will realize what it is long before Jonas does, because he has no understanding of death. None of his community members do. It is only after he receives the memories of death that he can appreciate the concept. His father, Fiona, and the others perform euthanasia on a regular basis on babies and old people without giving it a second thought. It means nothing to them.