Study Guide

Pure Memory and the Past

By Julianna Baggott

Memory and the Past

Chapter 1

"But what does it mean, anyway, that my father was a pigeon-toed quarterback if I don't remember him? What is a beautiful mother worth if you can't see her face in your head? (1.24)

If you can't remember something, did it really happen? If a tree falls alone in a forest, does it make a noise?

Chapter 2

"I don't remember. I was a kid." But Partridge remembers blue pills. (2.62)

Remembering certain snippets can sometimes be all you need to form a memory. And sometimes those snippets form the most important part of the memory.

Chapter 5

"We have to remember what we don't want to," he tells them. (5.27)

Repressing something from your memory is nearly impossible, which is why Bradwell's proclamation here is powerful. He's basically saying that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

They want to erase us, the past, but we can't let them. (5.39)

It's almost as if the people inside the Dome want to pretend that the Detonations didn't happen. But the wretches have a different opinion about it. To them, the Detonations are the most life-altering event of the past.

Chapter 10

The particles soon and rise, reminding him again of something else from his childhood, but he can't think of what—something like snow? (10.45)

One of the most crucial aspects of memory is how it can elicit a tactile sensation. We've already seen a few examples of trying to remember a certain moment, but actually feeling the moment is totally different.

Chapter 17

"The past is all we've got here," she says, picking up her pace a little. (17.28)

But maybe it's not. Maybe Pressia should be thinking more about the present.

Although her memories are brightly colored, crisp, sometimes tactile—like she can almost feel the Before—she can never quite express those sensations. (17.26)

The tricky thing about memory is that you never feel fulfilled unless you can grasp the whole memory. And even if you can, it's almost impossible to describe in full.

Chapter 39

Partridge doesn't say anything at first. Maybe he's flooded with memories, too, or he's wondering if he should invent some story for her, the way her grandfather did. Doesn't he want to be able to fill in her lost childhood, like a real brother could? (39.31)

Memory is highly individual; you can't have someone "fix" your memory. The best we can do as is try to remind someone of certain experiences… but if they can't remember, then sometimes the memory is just lost.

Chapter 52

She wants to tell her everything that she's been holding on to—her memories like beads of a necklace. (52.47)

Pressia reveres both the memories she knows are factual and the ones that she's less certain of. This is one of the things we love about her: she holds on to the past when other people are keen to forget it.

Chapter 59

She feels unsteady, as if standing in the rocking boat. She hears her father saying, "The sky is a bruise. Only a storm will heal it." (59.97)

Foreshadowing? Maybe? Memories like this are a great way to tell us what might happen in the next book.