Ray Bradbury

Revision for Fahrenheit 451

 

Character of Guy Montag

  • At the start of the novel Guy is a typical fireman who seems to take pleasure in his job. He accepts his position in life and seems to embrace the cold, stark ways of society.
  • The first trigger that seems to challenge the way Guy thinks and the way the reader sees Guy is when he meets Clarisse, a young and care free thinker. She asks him a question, “are you happy?” and this forces Guy to re-examine his life.
  • He also steals a book from a fire and the reader soon learns that he has a collection so he must have stolen from other fires. This challenges our perception of him as we thought he was a law a biding fireman but we soon realise that he has other plans.
  • He also makes contact with Faber, an ex-literature professor, and they make plans to reproduce books. This is a complete change in his character as he is blatantly disobeying the law.
  • He kills his boss and runs away from the law.
  • Essentially the reader sees Montag in a different light at the end of the novel. Instead of being responsible for the destruction of books, he is going to help rebuild society. It is because he rejected the ways of his society that he will help to make a better world.

 

Quotes

  • “It was a pleasure to burn.”
  • “"Do you ever read any of the books you burn?"
    He laughed. "That's against the law!"
    "Oh. Of course."
  • “His hand had done it all, his hand, with a brain of its own, with a conscience and a curiosity in each trembling finger, had turned thief.”
  • "'There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't stay for nothing.'"
  • “Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.”
  • “We have everything we need to be  happy but we aren’t happy. Something’s missing…the only thing I know I positively knew was gone was the books I burned in ten or twelve years. So I thought books might help.”

 

Setting as an important feature

  • Futuristic society where books are banned and it is the job of fireman to burn books.
  • Montag’s house, fire station, Faber’s house, river.
  • It is obviously is not important to the author that weknow exactly where the novel takes place; what matters is that the city represents the corruptedmasses, while the countryside signifies purity, rebirth, and a return to our human roots.
  • Montag challenges this setting and seeks to remake it into something where knowledge is accepted and books are no longer illegal.
  • It warns us of the dangers of censorship as well as giving governments too much power.
  •  

Quotes

  • “those who don’t build must burn. It is as old as history and juvenile delinquents.”
  • “There were people on the suction train but he held the book in his hands and the silly thought came to him, if you read fast and read all, maybe some of the sand will stay in the sieve.”
  • “so now you see why books are hated and feared. They show the pores in the face of life.”
  • “Remember the firemen are rarely necessary. The public stopped reading of its own accord. You firemen provide a circus now and then at which buildings are set off and crowds gather for the pretty blaze.”
  • “The mechanical hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the firehouse.”
  • “If there were no war, if there was peace in the world, I'd say fine, have fun! But, Montag, you mustn't go back to being just a fireman. All isn't well with the world.”
  • That woman, the other night, Millie, you weren't there. You didn't see her face. And Clarisse. You never talked to her. I talked to her. And men like Beatty are afraid of her. I can't understand it. Why should they be so afraid of someone like her? But I kept putting her alongside the firemen in the house last night, and I suddenly realized I didn't like them at all, and I didn't like myself at all any more.
  • Montag picked a single small volume from the floor. "Where do we begin?" He opened the book halfway and peered at it. "We begin by beginning, I guess."
  •  “We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren't happy. Something's missing.I looked around. The only thing I positively knew was gone was the books I'd burned in ten or twelve years. So I thought books might help.”

Turning point

  • The turning point in the novel is when the woman in the house sets herself on fire. This makes Montag think that there must be something in these books that are worth dying for.
  • He begins to question his whole existence after this moment in time and can never go back to how things used to be before she killed herself.
  • From this moment in the novel, his relationship with his wife deteriorates, he commits murder, he is a fugitive yet he meets people who are similar and they save the world after the war destroyed everything.

 

Quotes

  • “We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
  • “ Montag picked a single small volume from the floor. "Where do we begin?" He opened the book halfway and peered at it. "We begin by beginning, I guess."
  • "'There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't stay for nothing.'"
  • "Nobody listens any more. . . . I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it'll make sense."
  • That woman, the other night, Millie, you weren't there. You didn't see her face. And Clarisse. You never talked to her. I talked to her. And men like Beatty are afraid of her. I can't understand it. Why should they be so afraid of someone like her? But I kept putting her alongside the firemen in the house last night, and I suddenly realized I didn't like them at all, and I didn't like myself at all any more.
  • “The search is over, Montag is dead; a crime against society has been avenged.
  • “built a pyre and burnt himself up...But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again“
  • “And as before it was good to burn, he felt himself gush out in the fire, snatch, rend, rip in half with flame and put away the senseless problem…fire was best for everything.”

 

Quote Bank 

The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies." ~Faber

"Remember, the firemen are rarely necessary. The public itself stopped reading of its own accord." ~Faber

"My family is people. They tell me things: I laugh, they laugh. And the colors!" ~Mildred

"Nobody listens any more. I can't talk to the walls, because they're yelling at me. I can't talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say." ~Montag

"Anyway, Pete and I always said, no tears, nothing like that. It's our third marriage each and we're independent." ~Mrs. Phelps

"I plunk the children in school nine days out of ten. I put up with them when they come home three days a month; it's not bad at all. You heave them in the parlor and turn on the switch." ~Mrs. Bowles

"Read a few lines and off you go over a cliff. Bang, you're ready to blow up the world, chop off heads, knock down women and children, destroy authority. I know, I've been through it all." ~Beatty

"Caesareans or not, children are ruinous; you're out of your mind." ~Mrs. Phelps

"Well, the crisis is past, and the sheep returns to the fold. We're all sheep who have strayed at times." ~Beatty

"I don't talk things, sir. I talk the meanings of things. I sit here and know I'm alive." ~Faber

"Give a man a few lines of verse and he thinks he's the Lord of all Creation." ~Beatty

"I've heard there are still hobo camps all across the country, walking camps they call them, and if you keep walking long enough, and keep an eye peeled, they say there's lots of old Harvard degrees on the tracks" ~Faber

"Better to keep it in the old heads, where no one can see it or suspect it. We are all bits and pieces of history and literature and international law." ~Granger

 

Choose a novel where a character experiences a moment of realisation.

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury is a novel in which a character experiences a moment of revelation. In this novel the reader is presented with a character that seems to embody the norms of a futuristic society. It isn’t until he meets Clarisse, a care-free young girl, that things start to change and he questions his role in society. A moment of revelation is presented through the use of characterisation, symbolism and dialogue.

 

Characterisation is utilised in this novel to illustrate the importance of the moment of revelation. Montag is a fire man who has the job of going into houses and burning books. He seems quite proud of his job and does not believe that there is anything wrong with his choice of profession. “It was a pleasure to burn.” These words are the opening words in the novel and instantly tell the reader how firemen feel towards their job. The word choice of “pleasure” suggests a feeling of elation and contentment and that it gives them a feeling of satisfaction. This sets the tone for the novel and we can soon tell that burning is a way of cleansing the society of unwanted goods-books.

 

Montag has no need to wonder about his profession until he meets his neighbour Clarisse. She is not like others and her new philosophies make Montag change the way he thinks, “Then she seemed to remember something and came back to look at him with wonder and curiosity. ‘Are you happy?’” The word choice of “wonder and curiosity” is essential when speaking about Clarisse’s character since she has not been tainted by society and still has the ability to think for herself. She has the notion to ask questions and not accept things just because society dictates that people act a certain way. Furthermore, she asks a certain question that acts as a catalyst for the moment of revelation, “are you happy?” This question is important because it starts Montag thinking about his life and he soon realises that he is not happy and that there is something missing from him life. It is this small realisation that propels Montag forward to make a revelation that changes the course of the novel.

 

The moment of realisation is exposed to the reader through the use of symbolism. It is during a routine fire call that things change for Montag. It is a chance meeting with a woman that completely alters the way Montag thinks and feels. His hands soon start acting without his consent. “His hand had done it all, his hand, with a brain of its own, with a conscience and a curiosity in each trembling finger, had turned thief.” Through the repetition of “his hand” this shows how Montag feels disconnected with his hands and blames them for stealing the first book. His hands become a symbol for his rebellious nature and they soon become an enemy of society because they disregard the rules and upset the balance. This idea is reinforced with “with a brain of its own.” This illustrates how Montag thinks that he has lost all control and his hands have taken over his life. “A curiosity” reinforces how things how changed for Montag as now he is questions his role within society and he has broken the law by stealing a book.

 

He soon feels ashamed of what has happened and hides the book away from his wife and away from himself. Despite his attempt of trying to revert back to his old ways, his hands remind him of what he has done, “his fingers were like ferrets that had done some evil and now never rested, always stirred and picked and hid in pockets.” By comparing his fingers to “ferrets” this is suggesting that they have a certain responsibility and their job is to go in and get books. They do not feel satisfied until they can get books. The word choice of “stirred” implies that they are constantly moving and ready to go and retrieve books. This is important in exposing the revelation because it reinforces the idea that woman in the house has influenced Montag greatly. It is because of her selflessness of dying with her books that Montag now questions the validity of books and his hands show his desperation of learning the secrets found inside.

 

It is through dialogue that the reader is able to appreciate the impact of the revelation. After witnessing the death of the woman, Montag cannot lose the feeling that the answers to life’s questions can be found in books. In a conversation he has with his wife we can see that he his outlook has changed, “There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there.” By repeating “something” we can see that Montag wants to believe that the content of the books is worthwhile and will provide the answers that he needs. This piece of dialogue is important as he is vocalising his belief that society could benefit from books and he is essentially making himself vulnerable by questioning the law.

 

Another example of how dialogue shows the impact of the revelation is when Mildred confronts Montag as she can see the consequences of the revelation, “I hate her. She’s got you going on and next thing you know we’ll be out, no house, no job, no nothing.” From this quote, it becomes obvious that Mildred is acutely aware of what will happen if Montag continues to raise thoughts about books. She blames the woman in the house. “I hate her” for the change in Montag, and rightly so. It was her conviction that spurred Montag on and showed him that books do have value. Furthermore, by repeating “no” this shows us that Mildred does not share the same sentiments as Montag and she wants him to revert back to his old ways. Ultimately, the revelation that Montag had about books creates a rift within his marriage, causes the death of his chief and forces Montag to be on the run from the police and all this because he realised he wasn’t happy and that books might hold the key.

 

In conclusion, “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury is a novel in which a character experiences a moment of revelation. From this novel, we can learn that we need to question some rules of society but that there will always be consequences when you disrupt the status quo.

 

 Choose a novel where a main character seeks to escape from the restraints of his society.

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury is a novel where the main character seeks to escape the constraints of his society. In this novel the reader is presented with a character that seems to embody the norms of a futuristic society. It isn’t until he meets Clarisse, a care-free young girl, that things start to change and he questions the constraints society has placed on him. The desire to escape is presented through the use of theme, characterisation, and dialogue.

Theme is used within the novel to expose how a character seeks to escape his society. The futuristic society in which Montag lives tells him what to feel and especially that books are evil. He has been brainwashed into believing this doctrine and doesn’t know any better. It isn’t until he meets Clarisse that he starts to change the way  he thinks, "Do you ever read any of the books you burn?" He laughed. "That's against the law!" "Oh. Of course."It is because of Montag’s reaction, “he laughed” that we see that he is nervous of the question and doesn’t know what to think. He exclaims, “that is against the law!” to illustrate he is a law abiding citizen but this conversation has a lasting effect and it acts as a catalyst for Montag to escape from his society.

His desire to escape is evident when he discusses with his wife how there is a lack of emotion within the society. “We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?” By repeating “really bothered” this emphasises his desire to escape and start to actually feel something.  This idea is furthered when he says, “something real.” This highlights the issue in his society that everything is trivial and superficial. He is willing to break the laws to escape the conforming nature of his society.

 

Characterisation is an essential aspect of this novel which highlights how a character wishes to escape the constraints of his society. Faber is an educated man who knows the value of books. He becomes a mentor for Montag as he attempts to shed off the conforming nature of his society. “so now you see why books are hated and feared. They show the pores in the face of life.” The word choice of “hated and feared” explains why books have been banned. “Feared” reinforces the notion that the society is scared of finding out what is in books while “pores” represents how knowledge from books could seep out into the world and destroy all of the governments attempts to ban learning. From this metaphor, Montag sees the importance of books and this spurs him on to escape from his society.

Faber further guides Montag and urges him to continue on his quest to escape from society. “Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.” This quote exposes the weakness of Faber because he is too scared to do anything to change society so he councils Montag to try to make a difference. “If you drown” infers that he might not win, in fact, he might die but it is the “bit of saving” that will make the most difference. The image is continued with “headed for shore” which shows that Montag needs to do something to escape from his life or else he will die an unhappy and unsatisfied man. If he doesn’t do anything, society will continue to try and get him to conform to their way of thinking and he is unwilling to accept this.

Bradbury is able to use dialogue to illustrate the central concern of the novel as well as why Montag is desperate to escape. Clarisse highlights how Montag is different from the other fireman and even if he does not know it, even at the beginning of the novel has begun to shed the conforming nature of his society. “You're not like the others. I've seen a few; I know. When I talk, you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night. The others would never do that. The others would walk off and leave me talking. Or threaten me.” By repeating “the others” this shows how Montag contrasts to the other fireman and even the other members of society. He is willing to listen to her and he does not feel threatened by him. “Threaten me” demonstrates how others would use violence or aggression but Montag desires a change so he is willing to listen. Clarisse’s character is important in showing Montag that there is another way to live and that he has the innate ability to escape from the life he lives.

Montag’s most obvious response to wanting to escape is illustrated when he steals a book and then begins to read it, “ Montag picked a single small volume from the floor. "Where do we begin?" He opened the book halfway and peered at it. "We begin by beginning, I guess." The word choice of “peered” suggests that he is cautious but also enchanted by what he sees and really wants to learn about books. “I guess” shows his uncertainty but also his need to rebel and find out what secrets books hold. He is voicing his wish to be separate from society and start living his own life.

In conclusion, “Fahrenheit 451” is a novel where the main character seeks to escape the constraints of his society. It is because of the oppressive nature of his society that Montag rebels and searches for something that will make him happy. The book warns us that if we are too eager to accept government rule, we may end up in place that lacks independent thought.

 

 

 

 


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