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Lina and Doon: Two Streams, one River

Essay by   •  August 14, 2011  •  Essay  •  640 Words (3 Pages)  •  2,276 Views

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Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow are the two main characters in Jeanne DuPrau's novel, The City of Ember. Both characters are very important to the development of the story because the two of them work together eagerly to find a way to save their dying city. However, although Lina and Doon have the same goal - to save their city - they differ greatly in their backgrounds, personalities, and motivations.

Lina has a more complex family background than does Doon. Whereas Doon only lives with his father, Lina spends her time at home with her baby sister and ailing grandmother. Because of this, Lina is a more outwardly loving and sympathetic person than Doon is. Having to care for her younger sister, as well as her grandmother, Lina learns how to live for other people. Doon, on the other hand, can be overly self-conscious and proud. Since Doon only lives with his father, who has no health or independence issues, Doon has not needed to care for anyone else, and therefore usually only focuses on his own emotions rather than on others'. The following quote, spoken when Doon failed to climb the lamp post, clearly shows this characteristic of his: "`Don't you dare laugh at me,' he said to Lina. `I did better than you did! That was a stupid idea anyway, a stupid, stupid idea to climb that pole'" (20).

Doon may be more self-absorbed than Lina, but that is not the only way his personality differs from hers. Doon is also very pessimistic, frequently agonizing over the negatives and impossibilities he sees in everyday life. For instance, when he sees the Generator for the first time, Doon immediately believes that he was foolish to think that he could understand and repair the old machine. Lina, in contrast, is often cheerful and optimistic. Her dream of the existence of a bright and colorful city somewhere beyond the Unknown Regions evidences this personality trait. Furthermore, her desire to be a messenger also displays a fascination with freedom and joy, two optimistic characteristics that Doon oftentimes disregards.

Nevertheless, Doon is not someone who gives up easily. Within his pessimism is the motivation to better his own life, as well as the lives of his fellow citizens of Ember. Throughout the novel, Doon expresses his desire to save Ember. However, this wish is not necessarily for the benefit of the city's populace, but more so for Doon to win fame and praise. On page 195, DuPrau gives some insight into Doon's motivations: "He [Doon] wanted to shout out to his father, We've found the way out! We're saved! But he held himself in for the sake of his moment of glory." Lina, on the other hand, has a different motivation. Although she is also tempted by the chance to become a celebrity, Lina's desire to save the city lies more in her knowledge that Ember's supplies are running low and her dread that the people of Ember would suffer as a result. After discovering

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