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Jonas's apprehensions and uncertainties about his assignment in The Giver by Lois Lowry

Summary:

In The Giver, Jonas feels apprehensive and uncertain about his assignment because he does not know what role he will be given in the community. The lack of control and knowledge about his future tasks creates anxiety, as he fears not fitting in or failing to meet the expectations of his society.

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Why is Jonas unsure about his assignment in The Giver by Lois Lowry?

Jonas experiences feelings of apprehension in the months leading up to the ceremony when he will find out his career assignment.  He is not exactly sure why he has these feelings of uncertainty.  During a conversation with his parents, his father mentions that there is an "element of suspense... with [Jonas'] Ceremony."  His father explains that he did not experience this himself as a boy because he and his parents were fairly confident of what his Assignment would be.  He had gravitated toward caring for newchildren during his volunteer time.  This was "what [his] aptitude was."

This sort of aptitude is not something experienced by Jonas.  He does not know what his Assignment will be.  He does not even have "the slightest idea what Assignment the Elders [will] be selecting for his future."  Some of the other children who are the same age as Jonas have been performing their volunteer work at a specific place or in a certain field.  Jonas had "chosen to do his hours in a variety of places so that he could experience the differences."  He soon realizes that because of his decision, he is not sure of where his career path will lead him.

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What is Jonas apprehensive about at the beginning of The Giver?

In the opening chapter it is revealed to the reader that Jonas is feeling apprehensive about something that will be happening to all of the Elevens in this dystopian community. It is clear however, that he has a real mix of feelings about this forthcoming event, because alongside his apprehension he also feels more positively about it as well:

Now that it was almost upon him, he wasn't frightened, but he was... eager, he decided. He was eager for it to come. And he was excited, certainly.

The apprehension that he feels serves to increase the suspense and tension that the novel creates as the reader waits to find out what this event is. It is only later on in the text that we find out it is the Ceremony of the Twelve, when all of those who reach the age of twelve are given a specific job or role within their community that will be theres for the rest of their life. Jonas is of course concerned and deeply curious about what role will be given to him and whether it will be something he will enjoy or not.

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What worries Jonas in The Giver by Lois Lowry?

Jonas is worried about the Ceremony of Twelve.

There are a lot of different things Jonas is worried about at different times during the book, but I think you are talking about the beginning of the book, when Jonas says he is apprehensive.  He goes through a series of words, trying to decide which emotion it is.  Is it “frightened,” or “distraught,” that he feels?  No, these are not the right emotions. 

He was eager for it to come. And he was excited, certainly. All of the Elevens were excited about the event that would be coming so soon.  But there was a little shudder of nervousness when he thought about it, about what might happen.  (Ch. 1)

Jonas settles on the word “apprehensive” to describe his feelings.  He is worried because he is passing a major milestone for his community, and he does not know what is in store for him.  He is going through a ritual that will end his childhood, and start to give him the responsibilities of an adult.  What he does not know is that this ceremony is going to end his innocence forever. 

During the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas will be assigned a job that he will have for life.  Every eleven year old will.  One of the reasons that he is nervous is because he has no idea what that job will be—he does not get to choose it or have any say in one it is.  It is assigned by committee, secretly, based on years of aptitude tests, intelligence screenings, and observations—and there is no appeal.

"I know there's really nothing to worry about," Jonas explained, "and that every adult has been through it. I know you have, Father, and you too, Mother. But it's the Ceremony that I'm apprehensive about. It's almost December." (Ch. 1)

Unlike so many of his friends, Jonas seems to have no special interests or aptitudes.  He doesn’t have an inkling what will happen to him.  Thus, the nervousness.  Jonas realizes that it is a part of life in his community.  He explains to his father and mother, two adults that he is not related to who have been chosen to raise him, why he is nervous.

Jonas has reason to be nervous.  He is selected as the Receiver of Memory, the recipient of the community’s pain and suffering.  He will store its memories and its wisdom, and be the one they go to when they need to make decisions.  Jonas turns out to be different though.  After Jonas is made Receiver, he has a lot more to worry about.  This is a community that has locked away emotions and eliminated hunger and pain, but it has also banished love and humanity. 

When Jonas finds out that the community regularly murders citizens who break the rules or do not conform to its rigid and narrow view of Sameness, even infants like the innocent Gabriel, Jonas has to make a choice.  Will he continue to be obedient and careful, or will he take a chance, and break the community’s chains?

This is the story of a world where discomfort is not tolerated.  The first chapter alone tells us that.  Jonas seeks carefully for a word to describe how he feels.  His parents seek to identify his feelings, not to comfort him for the feelings, but to banish those feelings from him.   What Jonas's community has not realized is that while feelings are hard to cope with, they are what make us human, and we must learn to take the good with the bad.  This is the lesson Jonas decides to teach them and the reason he flees.

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What worries Jonas in The Giver by Lois Lowry?

Jonas is frightened of the jet plane that flies unexpectedly over his community. 

In Jonas’s community, every aspect of daily life is tightly controlled.  The idea is to make sure no one ever feels uncomfortable.  People are rarely unhappy or scared.  This is why the jet plane made such an impression on Jonas.  It flew overhead unexpectedly, and scared him out of his wits. 

Frightened was the way he had felt a year ago when an unidentified aircraft had overflown the community twice. He had seen it both times. Squinting toward the sky, he had seen the sleek jet almost a blur at its high speed, go past, and a second later heard the blast of sound that followed. (Ch. 1) 

The jet plane incident turned out to be an accident.  A pilot-in-training made a mistake.  It was a serious mistake.  The community reacted by telling everyone to immediately take cover, and then severely punishing the errant pilot.  The Speaker, a community watchdog, informed everyone what was going to happen. 

NEEDLESS TO SAY, HE WILL BE RELEASED, the voice had said, followed by silence. There was an ironic tone to that final message, as if the Speaker found it amusing; and Jonas had smiled a little, though he knew what a grim statement it had been. (Ch. 1) 

Release means death by lethal injection.  Jonas’s community is not tolerant of mistakes.  The new pilot frightened people, and he must pay the price.  Usually a citizen would be given three chances to break a rule or make a mistake, but serious blunders could result in immediate release.  Flying a jet over the community in broad daylight certainly qualified, in the community’s mind. 

This incident foreshadows trouble to come in Jonas’s community.  When jet planes make another appearance later, they are chasing Jonas as he tries to run away.  He then has reason to be frightened.

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What worries Jonas in The Giver by Lois Lowry?

As he flees from his society and encounters a number of obstacles to their freedom, Jonas is most afraid that he and Gabriel will starve and he will be unable to save Gabriel and even himself.

At the end of Chapter 22, Jonas and Gabriel have traveled for days without food. Jonas's ankle has been sprained, and it is difficult for him to pedal the bicycle. Added to all this, they are exposed to cold and now a chilling rain. Having failed at catching a fish or obtained any food, Jonas is "tortured by hunger," and Gabriel, who has not cried at all during the long, difficult journey, cries now from hunger. Jonas, too, cries; however, he cries not for himself, but for Gabriel that he will not be able to save the child. "He no longer cared for himself."

As he ponders their dilemma of deprivation of food and shelter, Jonas does experience something positive: He feels more love than he has ever experienced in his life. For, in eliminating many of the negatives of life such as hunger and physical pain, the society in which Jonas has lived has also mitigated real emotion, having declared that such words as love are "imprecise." Further, Jonas recalls how glibly his father, who has cared for Gabriel privately at home, tells his son that he has voted for Gabriel's release because the baby is unable to sleep peacefully at night without the comfort of another person. Truly, in his misery of hunger and cold, Jonas acquires an understanding that the positive and wonderful emotions of joy and love can only come after one has felt negative emotions, such as pain and sorrow.

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What worries Jonas's father in The Giver?

Jonas's father is worried because at the nursery, where he works as a Nurturer, there is a newchild who is not doing very well.  Jonas's father, along with the other Nurturers, are responsible "for all the physical and emotional needs of every newchild during its earliest life", and he has noticed that there is one "sweet little male with a lovely disposition...(who) isn't growing as fast as he should, and...doesn't sleep soundly".  The little boy has been receiving "supplemental nurturing", but still does not appear to be progressing as he should.  Jonas's father is concerned because the committee has begun to talk about "releasing" the child if he does not make a satisfactory adjustment soon.

"Release", which involves removing an individual from society and sending him or her to an undefined "Elsewhere", is only undertaken under three conditions - as a punishment, and with the very old or the very young.  The release of a newchild for inability to adjust always brings a sense of "what-could-we-have-done", because it is so final, and the child never gets a chance at life in the community. 

Jonas's father wants to do everything he can to prevent this newchild from being released.  He has asked the committee for special permission to bring the baby home at night so that he can provide him with the little "something extra" that he appears to need, in hopes that the special attention will help him adjust satisfactorily so he won't have to be released (Chapter 1).

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What worries Jonas in The Giver by Lois Lowry?

Young readers should take caution: the answer to this question is sad and disturbing.

In Chapter 6, Jonas's father has to argue before a committee to earn an additional year of care for the baby Gabriel, who wasn't gaining enough weight or sleeping well enough at night. The narrator explains, "Normally such a newchild would be labeled Inadequate and be released from the community."

What that means is that if the baby is fretful (if he doesn't sleep soundly, without fussing and crying and moving around a lot) then he might get released instead of being placed in a family.

Of course, in our world, some babies are not fretful at all, some are extremely fretful, and most are in between. We love all of them and take care of them regardless of how fretful they are, although a fretful baby's care is harder and more stressful.

Back to that chapter: we're told that "release" means that the child will leave the community forever and never be seen again. Depending on how observant we are as readers, we might already figure out right here that "release" means "death." If Gabriel is too fretful, he may be killed by the community.

Jonas knows that Gabriel's release would make his father feel unhappy, like a failure. And though Jonas himself doesn't really understand what it means to be released, he's glad that it didn't happen to Gabriel.

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In The Giver, why is Jonas scared of his new job?

Jonas is initially apprehensive about discovering what assignment he will be given at the Ceremony of Twelve, because he is not particularly interested in any of the occupations he's volunteered at. During the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas's number is skipped, which causes him extreme anxiety and makes him panic. The Chief Elder then apologizes for causing everyone anxiety and explains that Jonas has been selected to be the community's next Receiver of Memory, which is a revered, honorable position. She then briefly elaborates on the character traits needed to be assigned the position of Receiver of Memory. After she comments that Jonas must have courage, she explains that he will have to endure physical pain. Her comment regarding the pain involved in his assignment disturbs Jonas, and he is also worried about the fact that he will be apart and separated from his friends during his training. Jonas experiences more feelings of fear and uncertainty after he reads the rules to his assignment. Jonas is worried about the rule prohibiting him from taking medication to alleviate pain and is shocked when he discovers that he is allowed to lie. Overall, Jonas fears his new assignment, because he will be alone and experience extreme physical pain for the first time.

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In The Giver, why is Jonas scared of his new job?

Jonas is so anxious about his new position because it is so unlike any of the others, which in his society is taboo. First of all, he is skipped over and then singled out at the ceremony, which signals that this is no ordinary job. Then he gets certain rules that tell him that he can break cardinal rules of the society, such as he is allowed to lie. Then, he is informed that his job may cause him pain and he isn't allowed to seek treatment for that pain, and that he is not allowed to talk about his job with other people. All of these reasons are quite enough to scare anyone, let alone someone like Jonas who lives in a society where there is no pain, no suffering, and no secrets (or so he thinks).

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In The Giver, why is Jonas scared of his new job?

The Giver by Lois Lowry is a classic example of government gone awry.  It showcases the error in trying to prevent humanity from harming itself, by instituting unequivocal sameness, and ultimately doing more harm than good.

As Receiver of Memory, Jonas inherits the position, and duties, that keep his community in a state of bland, antiseptic sameness.  While, in theory, this protects the people, it also turns them into living robots.

Once Jonas has received the memories of his culture, both "good" and "bad", he realizes the enormous responsibility and control that has been placed upon his young shoulders.

For the first time, he is allowed to experience colors and music and feelings of true happiness. He also experiences hunger and the effects of war and feelings of true unhappiness.

His apprehensions arise from the knowledge that while the elders who devised the position of Receiver of Memory did so out of a desire to protect civilization, that they have greatly compromised the quality of life.  There may be no more poverty, hunger, and war; but, there is also no ambition, fulfillment, or beauty.

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Why does Jonas feel apprehensive and careful in Chapter 1 of The Giver?

In chapter one of The Giver, Jonas is feeling anxious. At first he thinks he is frightened, but realizes it is apprehension he is feeling. The Ceremony of Twelve is coming up, and this is a big deal for all the kids who are eleven. At this ceremony the kids will find out what their jobs will be, and they will have these jobs until they have to go to the home for the old. Jonas is apprehensive about what job will be chosen for him.

He had waited a long time for this special December. Now that it was almost upon him, he wasn't frightened, but he was...eager, he decided. He was eager for it to come. And he was excited, certainly. All of the Elevens were excited about the event that would be coming soon.
But there was a little shudder of nervousness when he thought about it, about what might happen.
Apprehensive, Jonas decided. That's what I am.

This ceremony is the most important part of a young person's life, and Jonas is well aware of that. Whatever job they will be given at this ceremony, they will have until it is time for them to "retire". Little does Jonas know that the job he gets is going to change his life forever.

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Why does Jonas feel apprehensive and careful in Chapter 1 of The Giver?

Jonas is apprehensive because he is about to turn twelve.  Or at least it is about to be the Ceremony of Twelves for all the kids who are about his age.

At this ceremony, all of the kids who are 12 are going to be told what their job will be for the rest of their lives.  In this society, people get assigned to jobs rather than trying to figure out for themselves what they want to be.

Jonas is worried because he has no idea what he wants to be and he has no idea what he would be good at.  So he's worried that he won't get picked for anything.

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