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The City of Ember
The City of Ember
by Jeanne DuPrau
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The City of Ember Theme of Memory and The Past

Ember is a city without a past. Or really, without much past to speak of; what are two hundred years in the lives of cities? Ember is an infant city compared to a place like Rome or Cairo. But Ember is all that its citizens have ever known; they don't know the history of the world, or that other cultures exist. So when Lina and Doon begin to learn more about the Builders, it's a total revelation for them. We (the readers of The City of Ember) have been one step ahead this whole time, but it's enough to make us wonder: what might we be missing about the past of our world?

Questions About Memory and The Past

  1. Which characters seem most interested in the past, and how do they express it?
  2. What can Lina and Doon piece together about the past of the world above? And how do they figure those things out?
  3. Which real world cities does Ember remind you of?
  4. What rituals do the citizens of Ember use to remember their past?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Of all the subjects taught in Ember's school, history is probably the most boring since there's nothing really to teach. Biology clocks in at a close second.

The people of Ember have no real concept of the past in general, because their own past is mysterious to them.

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