Chapter 4 Summary
Jonas is riding his bicycle down the streets of his community. The Celebration of Twelve is nearly upon him, and he has resolved to spend his last volunteer hours near his friend Asher. Jonas does not always choose to spend his volunteer hours with his friend because Asher sometimes struggles to take things seriously. Jonas reflects that he has experienced a little of everything in the community through volunteer work.
Some children are different. Benjamin, for example, spends almost all his time in the Rehabilitation Center. He has spent so much time there that he has even developed new techniques for helping people recover after their injuries. Although Jonas would never compliment Benjamin on his skills because it could potentially lead to bragging, he admires Benjamin for his accomplishments. Benjamin will almost certainly be assigned to Rehabilitation, whereas Jonas’s broad focus of volunteer hours has not left him with a clear future. Still, this is better than having too few volunteer hours. Jonas once heard a story that an Eleven did not receive an assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve and had to work privately afterward. That Eleven was disgraced.
Jonas finds Asher’s bicycle leaning, rather than standing neatly like it is supposed to, against the House of the Old. Fiona, a female Eleven, is there as well. Jonas enters the house and begins to take care of Larissa, an elderly woman. As Jonas bathes Larissa, she tells him about Roberto’s release celebration. Some people’s release celebrations are not very interesting, Larissa admits. She explains that one woman, Edna, was a birthmother for three years and then worked in Food Distribution for the rest of her life. She was not even allowed a family unit. Larissa jokes that maybe Edna was not very smart.
In contrast, Roberto had a wonderful life, one that was truly worthy of celebration before his release. He was a teacher of Elevens, which is quite important. He also worked on the Planning Committee and designed the Central Plaza. (Of course, he did not actually do any labor to build it.) Roberto also raised two very successful children. Larissa is impressed, as is Jonas, and she reflects that Roberto’s face exuded pure happiness as he was released from the community. Sadly, there is not really enough space in the Releasing Room for anyone but the old to attend. Jonas jokes that maybe they should propose a change over which the committee can deliberate.