Fahreheit 451 Essay, Research Paper
Fahrenheit 451 is a literary work of art. It is a novel about censorship and one mans fight against it. The story was written in the fifties, but is set in the future. Ray Bradbury s prediction of what the future will be like is precise in some aspects, but completely outrageous in others. He pictures the future as a somewhat a dictatorship government. The government controlled everything in their lives. People don t think either. Technology is made it so that people are given all their information through a television sort of a device that imitates a family. Books are obsolete, so they are burned. Our hero of this story is a fireman . Only, these futuristic firemen don t fight fires, they burn books. They burn them so people don t think, and so everyone is of equal intelligence. They don t want anyone to rise up and be higher than the next person. This fireman s name is Guy Montag. He lives in a condominium with his wife Mildred. The story sets off as Guy is walking home from work.
The Hearth and the Salamander
As he walks home, he meets a 17-year old girl named Clarisse McClellan. She talks to him about his job and they talk for a while. He finds out that this girl lives upstairs from him. He returns to his home after talking to Clarisse, and finds his wife lying on the bed with an empty bottle of sleeping pills next to her. He calls the emergency hospital and an ambulance comes, pumps her stomach, and replaces her blood with clean blood. The next day Mildred remembers nothing about overdosing on the sleeping pills. After breakfast, Montag goes to work at the fire station. Over the next seven days, Montag talks to Clarisse more and more. On the eighth day, Montag doesn t see Clarisse. He goes to work that day, and the alarm sound for them to go to a decayed old house. Montag finds hundreds of books in the old lady s attic, and one falls onto his hand. He unthinkingly hides the book under his coat and begins to spray kerosene over the house. The old woman that owns the books refuses to leave the house. Beatty begins to light the fire, but Montag stops him. Then, suddenly, the woman strikes a match and lights the house. The spectators watch in horror as the old woman burns up along side her books. Montag goes home and hides his stolen book under his pillow. He asks Mildred if he has seen Clarisse and she tells him that her family moved away and Clarisse was hit by a car and killed. Montag stays home from work the next day and Captain Beatty came by to check on Montag. He started talking to Montag about the history of the fireman. He says that mass media led to the condensing of books so much that all thought was lost altogether. Mildred finds the book under Montag s pillow and begins to say something. Montag stops her and Beatty continues talking to him. Beatty says that all books were diluted until only comic books, trade journals, and sex magazines were left. He explains that a fireman s job changed after all houses were fireproofed. His new mission was to burn books so that one could not excel over another and make everyone else feel inferior. He then tells Montag that every fireman become curious about books and reads one. Montag then asks what happens if a fireman takes a book home. Beatty says the fireman has 24 hours to burn the book. He also states that if that person does not burn the book in 24 hours, they must burn down their house and arrest them. Beatty leaves and tells Montag to try to come in for a late shift. When Beatty leaves, Montag reveals 20 or more books hidden in the heat vent. He picks up one and starts reading it.
The Sieve and the Sand
They both spend the day reading, and Mildred argues that she likes the pretty colors of television more than boring books. Montag realizes that he needs someone to teach him how to understand what he is reading. He calls up an old professor he met in the park named Faber. He doesn t answer, so Montag goes to his house. Faber lets Montag in after he shows him his copy of the Bible. Faber agrees to help by taking Montag s copy of the Bible and duplicating it in St. Louis. In the meantime, Faber tells Montag to give Beatty a replacement book instead of giving him his stolen Bible. Faber also gives Montag a two-way radio that fits in his ear so Faber can know what is going on. Montag goes to the bank and withdrawals money for Faber. Montag then heads to the fire station to return the book to Beatty. Beatty throws the book in the trash and welcomes Montag back after his sick days. The alarm sounds in the firehouse and Beatty, Montag, and two other firemen get in the fire truck. They arrive at Montag s house.
Mildred stormed out of the house and got into a taxi. Montag realizes that she must have turned him in. Beatty orders Montag to burn the house by himself and hands him a flame-thrower. When he is finished, Beatty placed Montag under arrest. Beatty sees that Montag is listening to something and he slapped Montag across the face. The two-way radio flew out of Montag s ear. Beatty picked it up and said he was going to trace it to see who was on the other end. Montag picked up his flame-thrower and burnt Beatty to a crisp. He knocked out the other two firemen and fried the mechanical dog, but not before the dog stuck a procaine needle in his leg. He went to the back of the house and found four books that Mildred had missed. He picked them up and headed toward one of his coworkers houses. He plants a book there and goes to a nearby gas station. He calls an alarm from the phone booth and cleans the soot off his face. Next, he went to Faber s house. There he gave Faber some more money for the printer and Faber gave him some old clothes to mask his scent. Faber tells him to take the old train tracks to find camps of old intellectuals and to visit him in St. Louis sometime. He then runs off into the night. He races towards the river and drenches himself with whiskey to trick the mechanical dog. He makes it to the river and swims downstream. He wakes up in the country, where he finds a camp of old college professors. One of them has a portable TV and they watch the police apprehend another guy they identify as Guy Montag. He meets many professors and intellectuals that show Montag their method of saving literature. Each of them is responsible for memorizing a part of a story. They put out the fire and walk downstream. Jets flash over the city and drop their bombs. After the aftershock died down, they went towards the city to see what remained.
The hero in this story goes through changes gradually. He starts off as a mindless civil servant and later in the he eventually learns to think originally. He went through all of the hardships and ended up with nothing. Then the tables turned when the bombs exploded. That was the irony of this story. The way he was punished was the way he was saved. It s also ironic that through the story, Beatty, the captain, knew so much about books. Throughout the whole book he was quoting from pieces of literature, yet he could read all that he s read, and despise that knowledge so much to destroy it for anyone else to experience. I thought it was kind of interesting to see everyone change as the book goes on and how Mildred, Montag s wife, always stayed the same. She read what Montag read and it had no effect on her. She was representing the mindless majority of middle class citizens. Clarisse was an interesting person too. She only lasted about a fifth of the story, but she could make Montag think by saying the most insignificant things. For instance, in the story, Clarisse said that if a dandelion rubbed yellow on your chin, you were in love. I didn t rub yellow on Montag s chin. This ripped his whole life apart. He began to realize how little he knew about his wife. She was like a stranger to him. After this point in the book, Montag spends less and less time with Mildred. I didn t see the relationship between Montag and Clarisse as love. It was curiosity of each other. Montag wanted to get inside her head. He wanted to know what makes people think like she did. Clarisse was curious how a person could burn books, and ruin peoples lives without even shuttering. Another thing that I thought was strange was that how insignificant religion was. The Bible was homogenized by the censors and shown to people on television, and the original print was outlawed. This is another example of their totalitarian government
Ray Bradbury, the author of this novel, used irony that added effect to the story line, although the ironies are only realized to the character at the end. This story has hidden plots that can be uncovered after reading it twice or even three times.
Also, the plot was original. It also showed the relationship between the people and their government. In this nation, the government had absolute power, which I think, referred to the dictatorships of then Nazi Germany or the Fascism of Italy. It also showed the conflict of good vs. evil. Faber represented the good, somewhat holy side, and Beatty represents the mind controlling satanic character trying to make Montag stay on the enemy s side. Faber leaves Montag to choose himself which path to take. Bradbury also used dramatic pauses, to add to the intensity of scenes.
Fahrenheit 451 has become one of my favorite books to read and I recommend it to anyone. His characters left a lasting imprint on how I think about the future, the government, and about censorship.
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