The City of Ember

by Jeanne DuPrau
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Why do you think the builders did not equip Ember's citizens with knowledge of how electricity and generators work? Do you think they intended to pass on this knowledge? Why or why not?

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Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember is the first book in a series of young adult science fiction novels telling the story of a group of people who live in a designed city underground. The builders of the city took painstaking care to set up a plan for the...

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Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember is the first book in a series of young adult science fiction novels telling the story of a group of people who live in a designed city underground. The builders of the city took painstaking care to set up a plan for the citizens of Ember so that they would be able to successfully and safely live for 200 years undetected by anyone living above ground.

The builders planned for the mayors of Ember to pass along a locked box, built to open automatically after 200 years, and successfully passed along until it reached the seventh mayor. Fearing he would soon die from a bad cough, the mayor tried to open the box. He was unsuccessful, and he died before he could return the box to its rightful place so that it might be passed on properly. As a result, the box was not opened after 200 years, and the supplies and plans the builders left behind are beginning to dwindle.

The builders passed on the specific knowledge they thought the citizens would need. Never anticipating that they would need to repair the generator in such a robust way, they did not share specific instructions to fix it. Each citizen of Ember was given a small, specific job allowing them to contribute to the overall forward movement of their society without having so much information as to become curious about the outside world and try to explore it before it was safe. The builders did not anticipate that the world of Ember would become so full and last so long without its citizens receiving the instructions to help them escape.

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