“It was like hunger, what she felt. It was the same as when her hand sometimes seemed to reach out by itself to grab a piece of food. It was too strong to resist.” (76, Duprau) Consumed by greed, any attempt at an egalitarian society is doomed to failure.
The City of Ember, designed to be an underground utopia refuge to protect humans from the inhabitable surface of earth until it heals, a secret box, containing the instructions to exit Ember was set to open after 200 years and passed down from mayor to mayor. However, one of them got sick and thought what was inside could save his life, he died before passing down the box to the next mayor. Then the day came, the box clicked open.
The book started after the 200 year mark when they were supposed to escape, however no one knew a thing about the outside would and continued their lives as if nothing is happening, by now, the resources are running scarce, the power generator is failing, the city can no longer support the population. Main characters Lina and Doon just graduated from school and entered the working world. Lina is still a young girl who loves having fun while Doon suspected the slow fall of Ember. As the story progresses, not only is the escape a huge concern. When Lina and Doon found that the Mayor had a secret room full of stolen goods from the citizens, everything changed.
Greed is an inevitable part of human nature, everyone have it in them, we have to learn to control it.
Lina, depicted as a girl who relatively still have a young mind is obsessed with drawing, and now having a job means she can earn her own money. Not even knowing it, she was consumed by this powerful force of greed when she saw the glittering colored pencils, instead of using that money to buy her grandma a coat to keep her warm, she bought those pencils, and the more she looked at them, the more greedy she got, buying one, then another, and another. Her grandma’s death later in the book due to a cold finally got her to understand and control the power of greed, starting to finally work with Doon and save the city.
However, the Mayor is a different story. Being the ultimate ruler of Ember, he dictated everything that happened. Using his power, he hired people to steal the goods for him and even built a chamber of his own just above the storage rooms! Just like the old saying, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Later on in the book, scared that Lina and Doon will expose him, he sent out warrants to capture them in order for him to stay in power. While Lina and Doon’s goal was to save Ember, The Mayor didn’t worry so much as he thought that if the city is going to collapse, he will just live to his fullest and enjoy, the greedy side of the Mayor won the good side, just like Lina said “His hunger had grown so big it could never be satisfied. His huge body couldn’t contain it. It made him forget everything else” (chpt13, Duprau). At the end of the day, Lina and Doon found a way out and left the people of Ember a message to follow, becoming the heros of the day.