Chapter 8 Summary
It seems that the Chief Elder has decided not to assign Jonas a job within the community. Every other new Twelve has received his or her assignment, and the entire community feels uneasy at Jonas’s omission. The Chief Elder explains that a mistake has not been made. Nevertheless, she apologizes for the unease everyone has felt, and the community accepts her apology. She next apologizes to Jonas specifically, and he also accepts her apology. Jonas notices that these assurances assuage the concerns of the community.
The Chief Elder explains that Jonas has not been given an assignment. Instead, he has been selected to take on a great burden on behalf of the community. Jonas has been selected for training as the Receiver of Memory. The Receiver is the most important member of the Committee of Elders, and the decision to select a child for this difficult post cannot be made lightly. She explains that if even one member of the council “dreams” of doubt, then they will not select a potential candidate. This policy has become even more important considering that the previous selection ten years before turned out to be a failure. Jonas sees the current Receiver, who is somehow distinct from the other Elders, looking at him intensely.
The Committee of Elders has been watching Jonas for several years, and he has demonstrated that he has the essential qualities to become a Receiver of Memory. Jonas is intelligent, as is evidenced by his strong grades. He has integrity, and although he commits minor infractions like everyone else, he diligently recommends himself for chastisement after every infraction. Jonas has courage, which is especially important because the Receiver of Memory experiences pain in a way that no other member of the community can experience or even comprehend. Finally, although Jonas does not possess wisdom, the council is convinced that he has the potential to acquire wisdom through his training.
Finally, Jonas has the “Capacity to See Beyond.” Again, this is something that no member of the community aside from the Receiver can understand, though they can at least be aware of its existence. At first, Jonas denies this ability. However, as he looks out at the community in the Auditorium, he sees them change somehow. He again recalls the curious incident when he saw an apple mysteriously change while he was throwing it back and forth with Asher. It seems that he has this ability as well.
The community, confident in this selection, begins chanting Jonas’s name, though no one—especially Jonas—knows what exactly is about to happen to this unusual Twelve.