Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 367
Themes in The Book of M include the importance of memory, sacrifice, and love.
The Importance of Memory
Memory is a very clear theme in the book. When people start to lose their shadows, their memories follow. In turn, when someone loses their memory, their entire sense of reality is gone. In the book, it's not only memories of people and places that are lost but also things like remembering how to use a door or how to breathe. It's everything that creates a person and lets them interact with the world. The importance of memory is revealed as it is stripped away from people. Because society fails to adapt, it falls apart. This is different than the memory loss suffered by the Amnesiac. His memory loss only steals his own life—not the collective life of everyone in the world.
Sacrifice is another important theme in the book. When Max realizes she's forgetting things, she decides to get away from Ory so that she can protect him. If she loses her memory and creates a false reality, he might get hurt. It doesn't matter that she wants to spend her last days with her husband, because she loves him more than herself. Because of this, she leaves. However, Ory is also willing to sacrifice himself to be with her. He sets out after her, despite the dangers that he has to face in his quest.
Love is really the heart of the book. Max and Ory love each other so much that he spends years with her in hiding from the inevitable loss of her selfhood. He creates rules and regulations to help her manage her memory loss. He gives her a tape recorder so that she can maintain some recollection of who she was.
Ahmadi, on the other hand, embodies a different kind of love; she wants to be with her sister, and when the epidemic begins, she is closer to her family on the phone than she is to the boy she's been dating, who lives near her. The Forgetting takes away society in many ways—as well as individual humanity—but it never takes away the human drive to love others.
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