In The Giver by Lois Lowry, why does Jonas feel "separateness" after the ceremony?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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After the ceremony Jonas feels "separateness" because he alone has been assigned the role of Receiver. He notices, too, that people move aside for him, and they react differently toward him now that he has been selected for his new role. The Elder has publicly pointed out his sterling qualities and his possession of the “Capacity to See Beyond.”  

Before his name is called, Jonas listens as the Chief Elder explains that the Receiver-in-training cannot be observed by others or modified while he is being prepared for the most honored job in the community. "Alone? Apart? Jonas listened with increasing unease" (Ch.8).

Holding the folder that has been given to him, Jonas leaves the Auditorium. When he makes his way through the crowd, looking for his family unit, people step aside and watch Jonas and whisper. After he finds his friend Asher, Jonas asks him to ride back with him; Asher hesitates before agreeing. Things just are not quite the same, Jonas notes.

When Jonas finds only a short list of duties, he is stunned. The fact that he is allowed things heretofore forbidden (such as "you may lie") shocks Jonas. He finds that he has no time for recreation, either, so he wonders what will happen to his friendships with Asher and others. The weight of these new duties and his being singled out for the highest position in the community cause Jonas to feel that he is separated from his former life of friendships, lessons, and games.

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tinicraw's profile pic

tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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For starters, the council didn't do much to prepare Jonas for the shock of his calling; that would make anyone feel isolated. When they were giving out jobs to all of the twelves, they purposefully skip him and allow him to sit anxiously in wait for his fate. That was merely the beginning of what would soon come, though. As Jonas learns about being the Receiver, he becomes even more isolated and different from what anyone else in the community could possibly understand. Jonas may feel a little bit of a sense of importance, but the lack of understanding, the ambiguity of the situation, rather, helped to create more of void between him and the rest of the twelves. Since his parents hadn't ever experienced what he went through during the ceremony, they too could not soothe him, comfort him, nor explain what was happening to him. It must feel so lonely to go through an experience that no other person in your surrounding community can possibly understand. Luckily, once he meets the Giver, he finds one person who actually can identify with his plight, as well as teach him how to weather the storms of that foreordained life as the Receiver.

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