Recently, Jonas’s father has been concerned for one of the children in his care who is not developing fast enough. If the struggling male does not develop more quickly, he may be released. This is always a sad decision that will leave the community wondering what could have been. Jonas’s father has even looked up the child’s assigned name, though it is still unofficial. The child is Gabriel, or Gabe, as Jonas’s father likes to call him, and his “comfort object” is a strange creature called a “hippo.” Jonas’s father is bringing Gabe home with him temporarily in the hope that some extra attention will help him develop.
Lily notices that Gabe’s eyes are strange in the same way that Jonas’s are. Both of the children have light-colored eyes, whereas the majority of the community has darker eyes. Jonas is annoyed at Lily’s comment, which is not against the rules but is insensitive, because people in the community rarely mention things that can be “unsettling.” He reflects that Lily’s insensitive chatter will soon result in a chastisement or perhaps a public announcement meant to embarrass her in front of her peers.
Public announcements are made to remind everyone of the rules, but they are often directed at a single person. Jonas recalls with embarrassment a time when he was the intended audience of a public announcement. He had been throwing an apple back and forth with his friend Asher, but he noticed that the apple changed somehow in midair. After several throws, he noticed the anomaly again, though Asher had noticed nothing. When Jonas took the apple home for further study, a public announcement was made reminding people not to take goods from the recreation area or hoard food.
Jonas reflects that the announcers always speak in a self-important tone. Perhaps this is the assignment that would be best for Lily. She is always talking, even now when Gabe is sleeping. Lily is excited about the new child in their house. A family unit can only have two children, so Gabe is a temporary addition. Still, Gabe’s presence leads Lily to wonder aloud whether she should become a birthmother.
Lily’s mother rebukes her for considering adopting the life of a birthmother. Birthmothers carry little respect. Although they are pampered for a few years, after they have given birth to three children, they are assigned hard labor until they are old. Jonas’s father suggests that she consider being a Nurturer instead because then she would get to spend time with infants instead of simply delivering them.