Why do you think Jonas was passed over at the ceremony of 12 in The Giver? How do you think he felt?

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

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Jonas was passed over because he was selected Receiver of Memory, and he was horrified and embarrassed.

The Ceremony of Twelve is a special ceremony where all Elevens are given the assignments they will have for their lives.  Assignments are jobs.  Basically, the child will begin training, and then have the job as a profession when he or she is older.  Some assignments have more prestige than others.  For example, to be a birthmother is considered a profession of little prestige, and so is a laborer.  They require little intelligence.

Jonas was skipped over because he was not assigned.  He was selected.  His assignment is so rare that only one child was chosen to it.  In fact, only one child is chosen to it in decades.  The only other person to hold the job is an old man.  We later find out that there was another child selected, but it did not work out.  This assignment is Receiver of Memory.

When Jonas is skipped, he is embarrassed and ashamed.  At first he thinks it is a mistake. He knows mistakes are not made, so he feels then that he made mistake.  He worries that he did not have enough volunteer hours, and his entire career in the community will be in disgrace.

He hunched his shoulders and tried to make himself smaller in the seat. He wanted to disappear, to fade away, not to exist. … Jonas bowed his head and searched through his mind. What had he done wrong? (Ch. 7)

Jonas didn’t do anything wrong, of course.  In fact, he has been chosen for a great honor.  In fact, the community needs him.  The job is the most prestigious in the community after the Elders, and in some ways more.  The Receiver advises the Elders.  So why, then, did they make him feel he had done something wrong?  In a community where discomfort is so carefully avoided, why allow Jonas and the entire community to feel it? 

There are two reasons for this.   One is dramatic one.  The author had Jonas skipped for dramatic effect.  What bigger plot advantage than to show that something big had happened?  By skipping Jonas, the author shows us that something is different about him.  It also shows that something is different about the community.  The ceremony, and Jonas being skipped, also gives the author an opportunity an characterize Jonas, because we see how he reacts to the situation, and we see how the community sees him in the traits required of a Receiver of Memory: intelligence, integrity, courage, and something elusive. 

“I do not understand it. You members of the community will not understand it, either. Perhaps Jonas will, because the current Receiver has told us that Jonas already has this quality. He calls it the Capacity to See Beyond." (Ch. 8)

In this way, we can see not only how they see Jonas, but what makes Jonas special.  It also foreshadows important elements of the future for Jonas.  We know that something is different in this community, and something is not quite right.  The reader knows to look out for what else is going to happen.

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studyingking322's profile pic

studyingking322 | eNotes Newbie

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Jonas sat in his chair waiting to be called upon as the other students had. When they skipped his number he must of felt shame and horror. Just think, if you were an actor auditioning for a musical or trying out for a team sport, and when the cast/team list came out, you did not see your name on it, but every other kid's name that tried out with you. Personally, I would feel upset and horror. Jonas waited like the other kids to get his "career".  Afterwards, Jonas finds out that he was selected to be the Receiver of Memory. Good Luck Reading, and enjoy the book. 

Like litteacher8 Said he was the reciever of memory 

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