by Scott Westerfeld
Uglies Memory and the Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Tally thought of Peris, and tried to remember the way he used to look back when he was Nose. Somehow, she couldn't recall his ugly face anymore. As if those few minutes of seeing him pretty had wiped out a lifetime of memories. All she could see now was pretty Peris, those eyes, that smile. (4.76)
The past is a major theme the book, which deals with fallen civilizations and ruins. But the past is also an issue on a smaller scale, as with Peris and Tally: they have this long history together—a whole lifetime (less than 16 years, sure)—but it's almost as if the surgery has wiped out that whole history. If they don't have any history together, are they still friends?
"You know," Shay said, "I read that the real Cleopatra wasn't even that great-looking. She seduced everyone with how clever she was."
"Yeah, right. And you've seen a picture of her?"
"They didn't have cameras back then, Squint."
"Duh. So how do you know she was ugly?"
"Because that's what historians wrote at the time." (5.10-15)
The only way this argument could be settled is by fighting in a gladiatorial arena. (But then, Tally probably doesn't know what gladiators are.) This discussion raises lots of good points and questions about history, like: (1) there are different ways to remember history (photos, written accounts, Twitter); and (2) sometimes our ideas about history might not be right (Cleo wasn't pretty, she was smart).
Tally brought her board to a sharp halt. The Rusty Ruins were the remains of an old city, a hulking reminder of back when there'd been way too many people, and everyone was incredibly stupid. And ugly. (6.22)
History is hard to remember, but it's a lot easier to remember when that history makes us feel better about ourselves. Like: did you know that everyone before us was dumb and we're the best? It's true. Or at least, Tally thinks that the people before were dumb and ugly—but that's us she's talking about. (She obviously doesn't know about Shmoop.)