Ray Bradbury Paper

Published: 2021-09-10 08:45:06
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Category: Fahrenheit 451

Type of paper: Essay

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Having stolen a book, Montag smuggles it under his pillow instead of hiding it behind the vent. He is truly fascinated by the mystery of literature, he wonders what it is that makes him want to have them with him, and especially what makes books so great that the old woman decided to kill herself for them. Next morning Guy feels ill from thinking that he actually killed a woman for having books in her home. 14 He also feels terrified of showing up to work after having stolen the book, so he calls in sick for work. Inspired by Clarisse, Guy Montag starts thinking about his life, how he is unable to recall his life in any detail at all.
He does not remember when he met Mildred for the first time, got married with her and why they do not have any children together. When he asks her she is equally blank about their lives together. Realising that his life has simply been a robot presence, we see the second turning point of Montag’s development, changing from the condition of uncertainty to the condition of minor rebellious thoughts and acts15. In his sick bed he also finds out that his young friend Clarisse has disappeared, possibly run over by a car. He has lost the only person he could talk to about anything else than what was on the parlour.
Having called in sick for work, Captain Beatty visits Guy on his sick bed. Captain Beatty knows what firemen go through when they experience death the way Montag did, knowing that he is wondering why books have been censored and why firemen are burning them, so Beatty carefully explains how it all started in the first place. He describes how minorities were offended by what was written in literature, how the authors generalised all the small groups. “Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did. … Books, so the damned snobbish critics said, were dishwater. No wonder books stopped selling, the critics said.
“16 This meant the people only wanted their comic books and erotic magazines, so actually it was not the government that excluded books, but the people. “There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! “17 The firemen were just there to please the people’s wish, there were no orders from the state. This passage can very easily confuse the reader in which opinion Captain Beatty has towards the development of the book censorship. It seems like he was an intellectual person, as he speaks foul about comic magazines and of the critics who ruined the reputation of books.
But he also explains that the word “intellectual” became the swear word it deserved to be. Books were considered a loaded gun in the house next door; people were afraid of intellectual men and women, so the firemen were simply given the role of burning the books; Getting rid of the dangerous gun. 18 He might have known that he too was a “dangerous gun” in the people’s eyes, so he joined the revolution. Not only knowing what Montag feels, Beatty knows about his illegal affairs, so he tells Montag that there is a policy allowing firemen with stolen books to have 24 hours to deliver them for destruction.
Montag accepts this possibility to read the books, much to Mildred’s disgust. Montag decides to come clean when Beatty leaves and shows Mildred his stash of books behind the vent. This is not only coming clean to the public, but also showing himself what he actually has been doing all this time. Overwhelmed by the task of reading, he remembers having met an English professor a while back by the name Faber. Montag asks Faber the true meaning of books, and is told that the value of books lies in the detailed awareness of life that they contain.
He is also made aware that you need the freedom to act upon the ideas from the books. Montag is truly inspired by Faber, and is truthfully committed to getting rid of the censorship of books. Faber and Montag’s plan is to reproduce books, so that Montag can plant them in the other firemen’s houses, harming the reputation of the profession. Montag is also given a two-way ear piece so he and the professor can communicate at all time. 19 The feeling of rebellion gets to his head as he gets home, only to be greeted by his wife and her two friends talking uncaringly about the war that is to be declared at any time.
Montag is aggravated by the little feeling in their conversation, and decides to read “Dover Beach” for them by Matthew Arnolds, containing the message; “Challenges to the validity of long-standing theological and moral precepts have shaken the faith of people in God and religion”20. Faber tries desperately to stop Montag’s act of revolt towards the women through the ear piece, but does not succeed. The two women leave in protest to file a complaint against Montag. Montag meets the “hand-back” deadline that was set by Beatty, but only hands in one of the books.
Beatty explains to Montag what process he has been through the days he has had the books by quoting a passage in a book. “A little learning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring; there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again. “21 Beatty’s words mean nothing to Montag as he does not understand them, but Beatty then explains the sentence to Montag, saying that he was a “drunkard”, only satisfied when inspired by rebellious thoughts, he knows that from former experience in his own life. Montag thinks he is saved by the bell as the alarm rings as soon Beatty finishes his sentence.
When the crew arrives at the reported house, Montag immediately recognises it as his own home, and he quickly spots Mildred stepping into a taxi. He has been betrayed by his own wife. Beatty reveals to Montag that he knew all along what Montag had been doing, but he was prepared to give him a chance to put it all behind him, a chance he also had been given in the past. The only way to do this is to burn down the house and go to prison for some time. 22 Acting in sudden feeling of pure hatred towards Beatty and fear of having to lose literature, he burns the captain instead of the house and runs away.
Montag escapes over to Faber, where he is recommended to flee out of town using the river to lose the mechanical dog. He is to meet a group of intellectual book lovers, known as “The Book People”. Montag manages to do so, escaping mechanical hounds and air born news teams trying to keep up with his getaway. Montag is warmly welcomed into the group who specialise in memorizing great literature. Their goal is to help the people re-establish their desire to read books and live their lives to the fullest. Their only opportunity for this is if everything is destroyed in the war coming up.
All members have a piece of literature they have to memorize, and Montag has to remember “The Book of Ecclesiastes”, which is a part of the Hebrew bible. As he is given his task, jets appear in the sky, dropping bombs into the town Montag had escaped from a few days earlier. This is The Book People’s opportunity to re-enter civilisation, now they can do what they have risked their lives for. The events of Fahrenheit 451 have led us through Guy Montag’s life and development. Although he is the main character of the novel, he is by no means an ideal hero.
The reader can identify and accept his mission, but not entirely approve of his awkward and somewhat foolish decisions on the way. His faith towards his profession and lifestyle already declines in the opening chapter due to having been faced with the complexity and mystery of books for many years. The reader is introduced to Montag as a confused and misguided character. This is confirmed later to the reader, when observing his way of rebellion against the society, as he either performs efficiently by being lucid, or otherwise he is inclined to be clumsy, e. g. when putting the book under his pillow.
His humanity range is also very wide, from the compassionate and sensitive conversations with Clarisse, to the monstrous and irresponsible murder of Captain Beatty. This clearly shows that he is bewildered and unwise all way through the story, as if he does not fully support his own plan of overthrowing the firemen and state censorship. At times Montag’s mind is disorientated by the actions of his body, e. g. when his hands steal books. He is also not capable of taking decisions independently, always dependent of Beatty, Mildred or Faber’s ideas and plans, which makes him easily manipulated.
It definitely shows the reader that he does not have control over his own mind and actions. Captain Beatty takes full advantage of these many weaknesses, and confuses and manipulates Montag with difficult quotes from advanced books. It is clear to the reader that Beatty is very loyal to his profession and lifestyle of immediate pleasure, but he is suspiciously wise on books, proving that he has an intellectual background. This tends to confuse the reader, thinking that he might not be the actual villain; that he could possibly be on the same side as Montag and Faber.
Faber has the same way of confusing the reader’s trust in him. He is a supporter of books, but he tends to order Montag around, not letting him think for himself, possibly using him as a soldier for his own rebel uprising, making the reader suspicious of which hidden plans Faber might have. The two other major characters, Mildred and Clarisse, are total opposites of Beatty and Mildred. Mildred is pictured to the readers as an empty shell, cold and very unreadable. Although she is the wife of the main character, the reader’s relationship to her is very weak and unknowing, as she is very distant to everything around her.
Still it is clear that she is struggling from an internal fight because of her suicide attempt. She is opposite to the two men because she tries to stay out of Montag’s actions and thoughts, not wanting to be a part of his life. Clarisse shares the same point of not trying to manipulate Montag, but is extremely interested in Montag’s feelings and thoughts. Clarisse is the totally opposite from everybody else, not caring about anything, only focusing in enjoying every natural detail happening around her. Clarisse’s death strikes Montag hard, having been greatly inspired by her.
These major characters have all been sitting on Montag’s shoulder like small angels and demons, each pulling at him from each their sides, each wanting Montag to do what they want him to do. The author Ray Bradbury intelligently includes himself into the novel, by using his characters as his voice. Captain Beatty is often used to describe the background of the society, Clarisse is his way of showing how he also notices and questions small natural mysteries in his daily life, but most importantly he reflects himself in the main character.
Guy Montag is Bradbury’s image of how he too would be the imperfect hero, being misguided and clumsy, but would fight frantically to preserve literature. 23 The reason he has mirrored himself with the rebel in this story is because of his message being sent out in the novel. Readers have always presumed that the main theme of the book was state censorship, but Bradbury burst the bubble on that interpretation in a LA News interview in 2007.
He had observed shortly after WWII that the people’s growing interest in radio and television was spreading a long shadow over literature and the interest in books, “The culprit in Fahrenheit 451 is not the state – it is the people. “24. He was predicting that mass media was going to be the end of literature. He was not just being pessimistic and old fashioned, when he foresaw that people would only be semi-informed by their “quick-reading” and “quick-radio broadcasts” giving the LA News readers the example; “Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was” he calls TV’s summarizing “factoids”, being misinforming and imprecise.
His true message to the readers is to watch out for the temptation of mass media, reading books is the only reliable form of information and knowledge25. Bradbury’s message is especially apparent in the two texts Montag reads, “Dover Beach” and “The Book of Ecclesiastes”. “Dover Beach” having the message “Challenges to the validity of long-standing theological and moral precepts have shaken the faith of people in God and religion” proving that human development and modernisation tends to lead the populace away from tradition and belief.
These two texts can be compared in this way: Dover Beach = theology>< mass media. “The Book of Ecclesiastes” proclaims that “all action of man to be inherently meaningless/empty as the lives of both wise and foolish men end in death”. The main speaker, “the son of David”, claims wisdom as a means for a well-lived earthly life. This enforces Bradbury’s message, proving that temporary happiness is insignificant, only knowledge is important. 26 “Why live your life in the shade of unawareness, when generations of intellectuals share their precious awareness with you? “27 – Ray Bradbury.

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