Chapter 5 Summary

When Jonas’s family unit finishes supper, each member of the unit shares their difficult emotions from the day. The routine brings the family together, and it also allows Jonas’s parents to monitor the development of their children, not to mention guiding them through difficult times. The family follows a similar routine each morning after breakfast. Instead of sharing their emotions, this time they share their dreams.

As always, young Lily insists on going first. She shares her dream in a long, drawn-out way that allows her to prolong how long she is the focus of attention. Jonas’s mother has had troubling dreams in which she worries that she has broken an obscure rule, which every member of the family agrees has likely resulted from the difficulties she has had punishing a repeat offender in her job at the Department of Justice. Jonas’s father has no dreams to share, nor does Gabe, the struggling infant Jonas’s father has brought home. Normally, dream sharing begins when one is a Three.

Jonas rarely dreams, but this morning he does have a dream to tell. As with his feelings of apprehension earlier, Jonas is once again confused about what is going on inside of him. His dream takes place in the House of the Old, where he volunteered to bathe the elderly the day before. In his dream, however, he was not bathing an elderly woman; instead, he was trying to convince his friend Fiona to take off her clothes so he could bathe her. When Jonas’s father asks about the strongest emotional experience of the dream, Jonas explains that it was the feeling of “wanting.” Even though he knew that what he was trying to convince Fiona to do was probably wrong, he wanted it to happen very badly.

After hearing the story of Jonas’s dream, Jonas’s father invites Lily to walk to school with him and Gabe. Meanwhile, Jonas and his mother stay behind to talk about his dream in more detail. Jonas’s mother explains that what Jonas is experiencing is the beginnings of the “Stirrings,” which happen to everyone. In fact, she and Jonas’s father have been waiting for him to share these feelings for a while. Jonas has heard of the Stirrings before, though he never really thought about what they might be.

In Jonas’s community, once people begin to experience the Stirrings, they are required to take a pill that will neutralize these feelings. Jonas’s parents have been taking these pills for decades, and every adult takes them until they enter the House of the Old. Now Jonas will take this pill to repress the Stirrings. As Jonas leaves for school, he reflects that this change is not so significant. On the other hand, he cannot help recalling that the Stirrings felt good.