The City of Ember
Memory and The Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
The box ended up at the back of a closet, shoved behind some old bags and bundles. There it sat, unnoticed, year after year, until its time arrived, and the lock quietly clicked open. (The Instructions.14)
Some things should be forgotten—embarrassing first dates, traumatic trips to the dentist, and so on. But a box that contains instructions for how to escape your city that becomes a death trap once the supplies run out? Yeah, that might be something you'd want to remember.
More and more, her grandmother's mind seemed caught in the past. She could explain the rules of pebblejacks, which she'd last played when she was eight, or tell you what happened at the Singing when she was twelve, or who she'd danced with at the Cloving Square Dance when she was sixteen, but she would forget what had happened the day before yesterday. (4.19)
Forgetting the past is no good, but living entirely in the past isn't good either. Granny's condition is familiar to people all over, whether they've got dementia or another psychological or mental condition brought on by age or an accident. Like a lot of folks struggling with mental deterioration, she'll latch on to some facts but not others. She ends up obsessing over the object her grandfather had said he'd lost, but she forgets to look out for her own grandchild (Poppy, who just loves to get into trouble).
"They say the Builders made the city. But who made the Builders? Who made us? I think the answer must be somewhere outside of Ember." (4.92)
Clary raises some good questions here. Everyone in Ember knows that the Builders made their city, but the Builders must have come from somewhere, too. So must've the citizens of Ember (because as far as we know, the Builders only built stuff, not people). It's the classic "where did we come from?" question, but with a unique twist.