Chapters 5–8

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a regimented community that is free from pain and suffering — but also free from joy, independence, and even color. When he is appointed the community's Receiver of Memory, Jonas begins to question everything he has been taught.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. infraction
    a violation of a law or rule
    Jonas said the standard phrase automatically, and tried to pay better attention while his mother told of a dream fragment, a disquieting scene where she had been chastised for a rule infraction she didn’t understand.
    "Disquieting" means "causing mental discomfort"--with an important position in the Department of Justice, Jonas's mother would know all the rules and be the one who scolds others for breaking them, which is why a dream like this would be disquieting to her.
  2. reluctant
    not eager
    Together they agreed that it probably resulted from her feelings when she had reluctantly dealt punishment to the citizen who had broken the major rules a second time.
  3. interdependence
    a relation between entities that rely on each other
    Fours, Fives, and Sixes all wore jackets that fastened down the back so that they would have to help each other dress and would learn interdependence.
  4. emblem
    a visible symbol representing an abstract idea
    The bicycle, at Nine, would be the powerful emblem of moving gradually out into the community, away from the protective family unit.
  5. reprieve
    a relief from harm or discomfort
    He had been given an unusual and special reprieve from the committee, and granted an additional year of nurturing before his Naming and Placement.
  6. inadequate
    lacking the requisite qualities or resources to meet a task
    Normally such a newchild would be labeled Inadequate and released from the community.
  7. relinquish
    release, as from one's grip
    Each family member, including Lily, had been required to sign a pledge that they would not become attached to this little temporary guest, and that they would relinquish him without protest or appeal when he was assigned to his own family unit at next year’s Ceremony.
  8. accompany
    go or travel along with
    But many came to the stage accompanied by another child beaming with pride to receive a little brother or sister, the way Jonas had when he was about to be a Five.
  9. exuberant
    joyously unrestrained
    The audience applause, which was enthusiastic at each Naming, rose in an exuberant swell when one parental pair, glowing with pride, took a male newchild and heard him named Caleb.
  10. somber
    grave or even gloomy in character
    The entire community had performed the Ceremony of Loss together, murmuring the name Caleb throughout an entire day, less and less frequently, softer in volume, as the long and somber day went on, so that the little Four seemed to fade away gradually from everyone’s consciousness.
  11. dutiful
    willingly obedient out of a sense of respect
    Jonas could see them applauding dutifully as the Nines, one by one, wheeled their new bicycles, each with its gleaming name tag attached to the back, from the stage.
  12. transgression
    the violation of a law or a duty or moral principle
    His transgressions were small ones, always: shoes on the wrong feet, schoolwork misplaced, failure to study adequately for a quiz.
  13. infringe
    go against, as of rules and laws
    But each such error reflected negatively on his parents’ guidance and infringed on the community’s sense of order and success.
    "Infringe" (verb) and "infraction" (noun) both come from the Latin word "frangere" which means "to break." Within the verb "infringe" is the noun "fringe" which means "a marginal, peripheral or secondary part." Only The Receiver can live on the fringe of the community, is allowed to infringe on its rules, and is still highly respected.
  14. violation
    a crime less serious than a felony
    But invariably the grinning Nines, who in technical violation of the rule had been practicing secretly for weeks, would mount and ride off in perfect balance, training wheels never touching the ground.
  15. distinguish
    be a distinctive feature, attribute, or trait
    Jonas never found the Ceremony of Ten particularly interesting—only time-consuming, as each child’s hair was snipped neatly into its distinguishing cut: females lost their braids at Ten, and males, too, relinquished their long childish hair and took on the more manly short style which exposed their ears.
  16. unaccustomed
    not habituated to; unfamiliar with
    He saw the Tens stroking their new shortened hair, the females shaking their heads to feel the unaccustomed lightness without the heavy braids they had worn so long.
  17. meticulous
    marked by extreme care in treatment of details
    The community was so meticulously ordered, the choices so carefully made.
  18. correspond
    be compatible, similar, or consistent
    All of the factors—disposition, energy level, intelligence, and interests—had to correspond and to interact perfectly.
  19. scrupulous
    characterized by extreme care and great effort
    Like the Matching of Spouses and the Naming and Placement of newchildren, the Assignments were scrupulously thought through by the Committee of Elders.
    "Scrupulous" when it's not synonymous with "meticulous" means "having ethical or moral principles"--this fits the description of the Committee of Elders, since they take extreme care to match assignments to each individual so that everyone would lead happy and productive lives that would contribute to the greater good of the community.
  20. exasperated
    greatly annoyed; out of patience
    Jonas always chuckled when he heard a parent, exasperated, call sharply to a whining toddler, “That’s enough, Twenty-three!”
  21. solemnly
    in a serious and dignified manner
    “Have you checked the rules, Jonas?” Pierre was always whispering solemnly. “I’m not sure that’s within the rules.”
  22. profound
    far-reaching and thoroughgoing in effect
    The speech was much the same each year: recollection of the time of childhood and the period of preparation, the coming responsibilities of adult life, the profound importance of Assignment, the seriousness of training to come.
  23. impose
    compel to behave in a certain way
    She would enjoy the three years of being pampered that would follow her brief training; she would give birth easily and well; and the task of Laborer that would follow would use her strength, keep her healthy, and impose self-discipline.
    "Impose" also means "inflict something unpleasant"--this definition might've been intended by the author Lowry, but the example sentence is from the perspective of Jonas, who agrees with the Committee's choice. Although Inger would start off as "Birthmother" before switching, "Laborer" is a pun that could fit both parts of her assignment (to labor is to "undergo the effects of childbirth" or "work hard").
  24. precision
    the quality of being exact
    And precision of language was one of the most important tasks of small children.
    "Precise" means "sharply exact or accurate" or "characterized by perfect conformity to fact or truth"--the given reason for language precision is "to ensure that unintentional lies were never uttered," but a hidden reason could be to limit and control the citizens' thoughts and actions. Precision is also a very difficult goal for small children who are just learning the language and wanting to experiment with the sounds and effects.
  25. lapse
    a mistake resulting from inattention
    He couldn’t seem to stop, though for each lapse the discipline wand came again, escalating to a series of painful lashes that left marks on Asher’s legs.
  26. prompt
    performed with little or no delay
    His corrections and apologies are very prompt.
    The chosen definition describes the way most citizens give their corrections and apologies (because they've been trained that way since childhood), but another definition of "prompt" ("ready and willing") applies more specifically to Asher, because he has a good-humored, cheerful disposition that is well-known and appreciated.
  27. attribute
    a characteristic that distinguishes objects or individuals
    Sometimes we worry that the one assigned might not develop, through training, every attribute necessary.
  28. indolence
    inactivity resulting from a dislike of work
    What we observe as playfulness and patience—the requirements to become Nurturer—could, with maturity, be revealed as simply foolishness and indolence.
  29. modified
    changed in form or character
    But the Receiver-in-training cannot be observed, cannot be modified.
  30. unanimous
    in complete agreement
    It must be a unanimous choice of the Committee.
Created on September 26, 2013 (updated July 19, 2018)

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