The Giver Chapter 6
Mother is fixing Lily's hair for the Ceremony in December. She is impatient and irritated, but Jonas reminds her that with the ceremony each year, good things happen. This year, she will start her volunteering, and the year before, she had gotten her front-buttoned jacket as a Seven. All Fours, Fives, and Sixes are required to wear jackets that are buttoned in the back so that they can learn to depend on one another. As Sevens, the children wear jackets that are buttoned in the front. As Nines, they start riding bicycles, signaling their independence.
Soon, Mother, Jonas, and Lily are on their way to the Auditorium. The days of the Ceremony provide a two-day holiday for the community so everyone can attend. As a Nurturer who participates in the Naming for the newchildren, Father will join the family later. Unfortunately, Gabriel is not among the newchildren to be named. Normally, a newchild like Gabriel who has not been gaining weight normally and not been able to sleep well is released from the community. But Father had gone on behalf of Gabriel to speak to the committee who had agreed to give Gabriel one more year for nurturing at the Center. The newchild will continue to spend his nights with Jonas and his family unit, but the family had signed "a pledge" that stated that they "would not become attached" to the baby and that they would give him up to be assigned to a family at the end of the year.
Inside, Jonas is glad that Gabriel had not been released. When people are released from the community, they are sent Elsewhere, never to be seen again.
The first Ceremony begins, and each newchild is named and assigned to a family unit. The audience applauds for each naming, but becomes more enthusiastic when a male child is named Caleb. The child is a replacement for an earlier male child of a couple who had fallen into the river. Losses like this are very rare in the community where children are carefully protected, but when Caleb had been lost, a Ceremony of Loss had been performed. Everyone in the community had murmured Caleb's name during the day, getting less frequent and softer as the day went on so the child would slowly disappear from the minds of the citizens. Now, with this replacement child, a Murmur-of-Replacement Ceremony is performed. Everyone repeats his name, becoming louder and faster as though willing the first Caleb to return. Such rituals are performed only for the newchildren who are replacements of losses.
After the ceremonies of Two, Three, and Four, there is a break followed by the ceremonies of Fives, Sixes, Sevens, and Eights. The rest is to continue tomorrow. As a new Eight, Lily goes up to the stage to receive her Eight jacket. The jacket has pockets, showing her to be old enough to take care of her personal belongings. She will also start her volunteer hours.
The next day begins with the Ceremony of Nine during which the Nines receive their bicycles. A Nine named Fritz bumps into the podium after he has received his bike. Fritz is always very clumsy and awkward that he is constantly being chastised. During the Ceremony of Ten, each girl's braids are cut off, and each boy receives a short haircut. Elevens are simply given new clothes. Girls are given different undergarments for their changing bodies, and the boys are given longer pants with pockets for calculators to be used in school.
Before the Ceremony of Twelve, there is a break. Jonas and his groupmates are nervous about their assignments. Asher tells Jonas about an Eleven who swam away to another community after being given an Assignment as Sanitation Laborer. Jonas dismisses Asher's story as being false, but Asher reminds Jonas that it is possible to join another community. The rules say that one can apply to be released and go Elsewhere if one does not fit in, but Jonas thinks to himself: "How could someone not fit in? The community was so meticulously ordered, the choices so carefully made." Chapter 6, pg. 48
Even for matching of spouses, there is a long period of consideration before they are actually matched so that one's application for a spouse is approved. Factors such as "disposition, energy level, intelligence, and interests" are all taken into consideration, so the husband and wife will complement each other well.
For Placement of Newchildren, the Committee of Elders observes the matched spouses for three years before granting them permission to apply for children. Thus, Jonas feels confident that his Assignment will also be the right one for him; the Committee of Elders will have chosen it after long and careful thought.