Jonas remembers a time in the past when that word did describe how he felt. It was when, against the rules, an airplane flew over the community. People stopped what they were doing. Directions came over the loudspeaker to go to the nearest building. Everyone did as they were told. Nothing happened. When the possibility of danger was over, the voice on the loudspeaker assured everyone that the pilot would be released. Jonas knows that "released" was not a word to be used casually. Children are not to threaten each other with it. Jonas remembers once when he used it against his friend, Asher, and was reprimanded for doing so.
Asher frequently used the wrong word. Once he had used "distraught" when "distracted" would have been correct. Jonas tries to use the correct word at all times. He decides that he was apprehensive, not frightened.
Over dinner every night Jonas's family have a conversation called "the telling of feelings." Each dinner time the family members tell the others gathered at the dinner table about an emotion they had earlier in the day. This night Jonas lets his sister, Lily, go first. His sister tells about a visiting child at her school who did not follow the rules. Her mother suggests that perhaps the child's community has different rules. Father suggests that perhaps the child felt strange.
Then Father tells of his concern for a baby that he has been caring for at work. The child is not doing well. Father wants to bring him home at night. He feels that might help because the night crew does not have the best Nurturers. Mother likes the idea. Jonas and Lily do, too.
After Father's turn is Mother's turn. She works in the Department of Justice and is concerned about a repeat offended that was brought to her. Mother mentions the rule about offenders being released after a third transgression. The family all comfort her.
Now it is Jonas's turn to tell his feelings. When he says that he is apprehensive about the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve, Father and Mother know that this conversation should not include Lily. They send her to get ready for bed.
Jonas remembered back to when Lily was a One and received her name. That was the day that they received her. All the babies go to their families on that day. Some are beginning to walk already while some were just recently born.
Father tells Jonas that, although he was not supposed to do so, he looked up the name planned for the boy he hopes to bring home in the evenings. It is Gabriel, or Gabe.
In the past Father did something else that he was not supposed to do. He taught his own sister to ride his bicycle before she was given one as a Nine. There is a rule against that, but unlike most other rules, that is a rule that is frequently broken.
A committee was studying the rule regarding teaching those who were not yet a Nine to ride a bicycle. But, committees take a long, long time to make rule-changing decisions. Some more serious changes have to be reviewed by the Receiver, who is the most important Elder.
Father tells Jonas that, while he was very excited at his Ceremony of Twelve, it was different than with Jonas because he was fairly sure that he would be chosen to be a Nurturer. He had shown by the free time he had spent with the new children where his interest was. But, with Jonas it is not the same. And, his apprehension is increased by the knowledge that there are some Assignments with which he would be disappointed. Some children are chosen to be, for example, Laborers. Father doesn't think that Jonas has cause for concern. Father reminds him that there is an appeal process. That causes laughter because appeals are studied by a committee. It would take a very long time to get an answer to an appeal.
The way that Father had spent a lot of time with the new children did help the committee decide that he should be a Nurturer. Jonas was aware that he and the other Elevens had been observed this year by members of the committee. The committee members had then met to discuss what would be the job for each Eleven.
Jonas's thoughts turn to Asher, his best friend, and what Assignment Asher might receive. Father reminds Jonas that after the Ceremony of Twelve his group of friends will likely change. He will be with the other Twelves chosen for the same job much of the time in the future.
The conversation ends when Lily comes back into the room wanting her comfort object. Mother reminds her that when she turns eight at the December ceremony she will give up her comfort object. Comfort objects are supposedly imaginary animals, like elephants and bears.
Observing the newcomer, Lily decides that she wants to be a Birthmother someday. Mother cautions her. But a Ten told Lily about the Birthing Center at which the Ten sometimes volunteers. The Birthmothers are given good meals and only do gentle exercise. They have a lot of free time. Mother explained that the good life only lasts three years while they are producing three babies. After that, Birthmothers become Laborers until they enter the House of the Old.
Father tells Lily that Birthmothers never even get to see their babies. He suggests that, if she likes babies, a good Assignment for her would be Nurturer.
Jonas thinks to himself that a good Assignment for Lily would be Speaker. Speakers are the ones whose voices are heard on the loudspeakers. They remind everyone about rules that have been broken. They don't say the offending person's name, but the person and everyone else know anyway.
Jonas thinks back to a day when a loudspeaker announcement was directed at him. Against the rules, he had taken home an apple. Jonas remembers the day it happened. He had been playing catch with Asher. Jonas was surprised when, in midair, the apple had changed in a puzzling way. This happened four times, always when the apple was in midair. But, when he examined the apple in his hands, the apple was not changed. He took it home to study some more. But, he never understood what had happened.
Jonas finds his best friend, Asher, at the House of the Old. Jonas's friend, Fiona, is also there. They are in the bathing room. They are both bathing the Old. Jonas knows what to do because he has worked there in the past. He takes an old woman, Larissa, to a tub and bathes her. It is acceptable to see the Old and newchildren naked.
Larissa tells Jonas about the Release celebration for Roberto, who formerly lived in the House of the Old. They told his whole life story. It was very interesting. She compares his life story to that of Edna, who was a Birthmother and later worked in Food Production. She was never allowed to be part of a family unit. Larrisa thinks that Edna's life story was boring. Jonas wants to know more about the celebration. Larissa relates that after the telling of his life story, they had a toast and sang the anthem. Then it was Time for Roberto's goodbye speech. Some who were there also gave good-bye speeches. Larissa tells Jonas that Roberto had been thrilled. Jonas asks her about the actual release. Where did Roberto go when he was released? He went through a door to the Releasing Room. She doesn't know more than that. No one does, except probably the committee. Anyway, Roberto had been very happy as he went.