Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
The City of Ember
is the only light in the dark world. Beyond Ember, the darkness goes on forever
in all directions. When the children of the city of Ember finish school, they
begin work at 12 years of age. . . .
Lina Mayfleet desperately wants to be a messenger. Messengers spend their days
outside, running from one corner of the city to the other. Instead, she draws
the dreaded job of Pipeworks laborer, which means shell be stuck in tunnels
Doon Harrow draws messengerand asks to trade with Lina! Doon wants to be
underground. Thats where the generator is, and Doon has ideas about how to fix
it. For as long as anyone can remember, the great lights of Ember have kept the
endless darkness that surrounds the city at bay. But now the lights are starting
When Lina finds fragments of an ancient parchment, she and Doon put the pieces
together to discover a message that seems to be directions out of the city.
- Doon and
Lina like very different things. Doon wants to work in the Pipeworks;
Lina yearns to be a messenger. Doon likes to study how things work. Lina
likes to run and explore. But their friendship grows because they are
ultimately searching for the same thing. How do they complement one
another and help one another develop through the novel?
- Earth today
has many environmental and social issues. What sort of problems could
have led to the building of the City of Ember?
- Clary tells Lina, "Everyone has some darkness inside." (p. 168)
Light and color both play very key roles in the novel. In what ways,
other than the failing street lamps, are color and light important?
- The possibility of never-ending darkness changes many of Linas
friends and many of the townspeople. She discovers that her friend
Lizzie has begun to accept things from Looper, who is stealing things
from the storerooms. Why does Lina turn down the gifts that Lizzie
offers her? Do you think that she was right to do so?
- The city of Ember was built when people were worried that the
human race might not survive. Do you think this was a good plan?
- The mayor is the most corrupt character in the novel. He squelches
the thirst for knowledge and limits freedom, yet the majority of the
townspeople just accept his behavior. Why do you think they act this
way? What other actions might they have taken?
- People react in various ways when they feel threatened. How do the
people of Ember react to danger? Have you seen people reacting to danger
in these ways? How are Poppys actions important to the plot?
- At the end of the novel, Lina, Doon, and Poppy have discovered a
sunlit earth. What do you think will become of them in the sequel? Do
you think that there are other people on the surface?
See also the Teachers' Guide for The City of Embers series.
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Yearling.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.