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The City of Ember

The City of Ember

by Jeanne DuPrau

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"So the first mayor will pass the box to the next mayor, and that one to the next, and so on down through the years, all of them keeping it a secret, all the time?" "What else can we do?" asked the chief builder. "Nothing about this endeavor is certain. There may be no one left in the city by then or no safe place for them to come back to." (The Instructions.11-12)

The people who planned Ember had good intentions—to save a small set of humanity in case the rest of the population is killed in an inevitable disaster. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans? Yeah, nothing is certain in life, and even though it seems like the Builders have done a pretty good job accounting for various possibilities, they couldn't take every variable into account. Especially not human nature, since we humans are notoriously fickle. With that in mind, leaving the box containing instructions to one person at a time maybe wasn't the best plan in the first place Would planting a back-up box somewhere have been that hard?

Quote #2

Both the girl and the boy were making urgent wishes. Doon's wish was very specific. He repeated it over and over again, his lips moving slightly, as if he could make it come true by saying it a thousand times. Lina was making her wish in pictures rather than in words. (1.7)

On Assignment Day, we imagine that most kids are wishing or hoping for a particular job (or against a particular job—we think being a toilet scrubber in Ember doesn't sound fun). It's interesting that Lina and Doon make their wishes in different ways, one visual and the other verbal. Just goes to show that while we all have hopes and dreams, we express them in different ways.

Quote #3

Lina had done the drawings out of her imagination. They showed a city that looked somewhat like Ember, except that its buildings were lighter and taller and had more windows. (2.30)

The city of Lina's dreams is filled with light and beauty. In other words, it's totally different from Ember. She hopes that someday she'll find it, even though she knows from school that Ember is the only light in a dark world. It's not like there's a rule saying dreams have to be consistent with the real world, though. Or that what you learn in school is always true.

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