Summary chapters 1-8

Chapter 1

Setting: On the way home, at Jonas' family home 

Time: End of November

Characters: Jonas, Jonas' father, mother, and sister Lily

Summary: As 11-year-old schoolboy Jonas rides his bicycle home, he tries to find the best word to describe his current feeling about something special that will happen in December (1%).

Jonas remembers an aircraft he heard last year when it flew over the community, causing a great deal of anxiety and making him experience fear. A voice through the loudspeakers instructed community members to go to leave their bicycles where they were and head for the nearest building (9%).

 Eventually, the voice from the loudspeaker gave the all-clear again and announced that a trainee pilot has made a navigational error and had steered off course. The pilot was to be punished and "released", which Jonas knows is the worst punishment in the community (18%).

Jonas then thinks about his best friend Asher, who is often late for school and doesn't express himself too well. The community has a clear rule: for an offense, like being late, you have to apologize to the group, then the group has to accept this apology with a certain formula (27-36%).

Jonas eventually comes to the conclusion that the word "frightened" is too strong to describe his feelings regarding the coming events in December. He adds that he is rather "eager, and "excited," but also "nervous," so he concludes that "apprehensive" is the best word to describe his condition. He belongs to the group of "Elevens" who are all excited about what is about to happen to them.

At Jonas's home, after dinner, the family practices the community ritual "the evening telling of feelings". Each family member describes his or her feelings and the rest of the family reflects on these statements (36%-100%).

First up is Jonas’ seven-year-old sister Lily. She expresses her anger about the children from another community who visited her class and did not follow the rules of the community (45-55%). Lily’s parents help her realize that the strange children probably follow different norms and probably do not know the rules of their community. 

The family tries to help Lily get rid of her feeling of anger. Finally, Lily shows understanding for the visitors' behavior. Eventually, she feels sorry for the boy she was upset with because she understands that he must have felt unsafe in the new community since he didn't know the rules. Moreover, she now regrets that she acted so angrily (55-74%).

Next up is Jonas' father. Jonas' father is a Nurturer and is responsible for caring for the newborn children in the community, which are called newchildren. He tells of a newchild who is not developing well enough and is not sleeping through the nights. If this does not change, then he will have to be released. The Father is worried about the baby. He therefore wants to ask the committee for permission to let the boy stay with Jonas' family for a while to develop better. All family members agree to this (64-82%).

In the course of the discussion, it is told that most Nurturers on the night shift do not have a spouse. Only people with certain qualities are assigned a spouse in the community. Each couple is also only allowed two children, a girl and a boy (82%).

Finally, it is Jonas' turn, but he actually does not want to express his feelings that evening. However, he knows that the rules of the community dictate tha...

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