It's FINALLY time for the Ceremony of Twelve. Jonas and his friends line up in the order of the numbers they were given at birth, before they all had names. The numbers reflect the order in which the children are born; Jonas is number nineteen, which means he's on the older side of his group of children.
The group will receive its assignments in this order, as well. Asher, we see, is number four.
The Chief Elder, an aged woman, gives a little speech to the group of young people. She notes that, until now, differences were a bad thing. But today, differences are called out and used to decide each individual's future.
And then the assignments begin: Fish Hatchery Attendant, Birthmother, Instructor of Sixes.
Then it's Asher's turn. The Chief Elder relates some anecdotes about Asher to the crowd, like when he was little and couldn't distinguish between the words "smack" and "snack." (Apparently it's a common punishment for young people to receive "smacks" with a "discipline wand.") Anyway, every time Asher wanted a snack he accidentally said "smack." So his teacher would smack him on the leg.
Anyway, the Chief Elder finally gets around to giving Asher his assignment: Assistant Director of Recreation. Yay.
And the assignments continue. When the Chief Elder gets to Fiona, number Eighteen and standing to Jonas's left, she assigns Caretaker of the Old, which everyone finds appropriate.
Since, as we all know, nineteen comes after eighteen, it's Jonas's turn.
The Chief Elder moves on to number Twenty. She skips Jonas. Everyone notices, and the crowd is all hushed.
But the Chief Elder keeps right on rolling through all of the kids. Jonas wonders what he might have done wrong.