Ignorance to Enlightenment in Fahrenheit 451 and Uglies
Imagine not being able to be yourself, read books, or make decisions on your own, this was normalized for Montag and Tally until they met the people that would change their perspective on everything. In Uglies, all sixteen-year-old children are required to have cosmetic surgery that will make them “pretty.” Tally Youngblood can’t wait to become pretty, but then she meets Shay, who wants to remain “ugly”, her perception changes. You can relate this to Fahrenheit 451 due to Montag not knowing any better and destroying books. Not until Montag meets Clarisse does he start to realize that there’s more to life than screens. Westerfield and Bradbury show in these novels that you can’t realize how ignorant you are until someone makes you question yourself and wonder if you are good enough.
Montag and Tally both let the government influence themselves on what they should be. Montag let the government control his mind by not being able to read books and obtain knowledge. “While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning. Montag grinned the fierce grin of all men singed and driven back by flame.” (Bradbury 1) Montag as a firefighter and burning books brings him joy but not the joy that we feel, just less empty than he usually does. On the contrast, in The Uglies the government wants everybody to undergo surgery to become pretty. Tally really wants to go through the surgery to be pretty so she can be in New Pretty Town with her best friend Peris. “There was a certain kind of beauty, a prettiness that everyone could see. Big eyes and full lips like a kid’s; smooth, clear skin; symmetrical features; and a thousand other little clues. Somewhere in the backs of their minds, people were always looking for these markers. No one could help seeing them, no matter how they were brought up. A million years of evolution had made it part of the human brain.” (Westerfield 16) Tally knows that no matter how many surgeries she has people will still see tiny things that make her ugly. Montag and Tally are both unaware on how fatal they’re ignorance is until they meet Clarisse and Shay.
On the contrast, Montag and Tally both had people try to criticize and belittle their character. Montag was a firefighter with a wife, Mildred, at home, he lived what they would consider a happy life, but montag was not happy. Mildred believed in screens and pain pills her and Montag had no connection, but on the other hand Clarisse introduced him into the idea that knowledge is not evil. Clarisse didn’t directly point it out, but made him realize how wrong this society is. Meanwhile, Tally is getting thrown out of buildings and pulling fire alarms just to see her friend. By doing this she meets Shay, they get in a lot of trouble together and Shay almost convinces Tally that she does not need the surgery. “Shay didn’t look, just shrugged. ‘That’s not me. It’s some committee’s idea of me.” (Westerfield 45) Tally takes this advice to heart and is actually contemplating the surgery, when Tally shows Shay her new face Shay decides it could clear Tally’s head. Even though they know it’s wrong to be hanging out with Clarisse and Shay, they cannot stop something fascinates them leaving them wanting more.
On the quest to know more they both find out that the journey may be more complicated than they think. Montag is become more and more uncomfortable with his life when Clarisse disappears he knows he has to change something. Montag starts to read more and then calls in Faber, an old professor to help him. Montag and Faber start to read and talk more and decide that taking over the firemen would be their best option to get their freedom. “There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”(Bradbury 48) Montag now knows what he is fighting for and is willing to take down whatever stands in his way. Tally and Shay are becoming closer friends, so when Dr. Cable wants Tally to turn in Shay she is hesitant but decides to go through with it. Tally finds Shay and feels like she cannot betray her so she starts to stay with Shay in the Smoke and actually enjoys it. Now Tally is the one wanting to stay with the smoke and remain ugly. When she’s hiding with the Smokes she finally realizes whether she is ugly or pretty she will be the same person and finally gets the surgery. In the end they both discover that it doesn’t matter what others want you to be, ultimately you will know when you find joy.
By writing Fahrenheit 451 and The Uglies Bradbury and Westerfield show what could happen if we do not focus on ourselves. They both try to instill the theme of happiness with knowledge, with Bradbury he focused on gaining that knowledge through books and learning while Westerfield more so focused on being happy and confident with who you are. In conclusion, Bradbury and Westerfield are saying to learn what makes you happy and do not let people take that away.
Different Types Of Social Control Represented in Ray Bradbury’s Book Fahrenheit 451
There are several different types of social control represented in Ray Bradbury’s book Fahrenheit 451. Internal social control is a major form of social control seen in the book. Society sets rules, norms, and values that are used in order to keep individuals from exhibiting non-conforming behavior (Chriss, 2013). As a result, individuals internalize the rules and typically consider them in their decision making process. Unfortunately, even unpopular norms can be enforced through social control. This concept is known as the emperor’s dilemma (Chriss, 2013). Many individuals assist in reinforcing unpopular norms in order to go along with the crowd to avoid sanctions (Chriss, 2013). In Fahrenheit 451 many citizens believe that the laws created by the government were put into place for their own protection. Citizens often reinforce unpopular norms because of to misrepresentation. In Bradbury’s book intelligence is viewed as a negative characteristic; For example, Montag is called “snobby” when he reads poetry to the women (Bradbury, 1981).
The government in Fahrenheit 451 has developed new rules in order to keep limit social interaction. For example, porches are no longer allowed due to their use of social interaction by people sitting in rocking chairs and socializing on them. Several characters in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 abide by the norms set by society including the heavy reliance on technology as a form of entertainment. In the book, technology is used as a form to isolate people. An example seen in the book are the use of “seashells” and “parlor walls” as tools for the government to promote social control through its ability to decide what programs will be shown and also to monitor and listen to what is going on in each household. The parlor walls (which consists of television screens), even create a virtual family for Mildred to connect with.
Family, peers and the media are primary agents of control. Agents of social control assist children in conforming to social norms and expected behavior through rewards and punishments (Chriss, 2013). According to Chriss, socialization is the process in which individuals learn culture and social norms (2013). This process help the individual develop an understanding of the social norms. Clarisse had relatives that were viewed as non-conforming, therefore, Clarisse’s behavior was more similar to them. For example, Clarisse mentions to Montag that her uncle was arrested for driving too slowly and also for being a pedestrian (Bradbury, 1981). Captain Beatty indicates that Clarisse was a risk due to her continuation of these types of behaviors, therefore, she was killed (Bradbury, 1981).
In order for the government to promote total conformity, Captain Beatty mentions that the government has lowered the age for young children to enter kindergarten. Decreasing the age of children entering kindergarten prohibits families that might be seen as non-conforming from influencing those values of their young children. Education is typically used as a form of social control by promoting socialization within children, however, according to Captain Beatty the role of schools changed over time to be geared more towards athletics and technology (Bradbury, 1981). According to Beatty, the educational institution was producing more athletes than scholars, leading to the word “intellectual” being viewed as a curse word (Bradbury, 1981).
The media is another commonly used agent of social control in Fahrenheit 451. The media can often assist of social control by distorting a picture of crime and creating fear of crime for its viewers. In the book, the media uses the parlor walls to display the search and capture of criminals in order to attempt to deter and create fear of breaking the law for other citizens. In order to achieve it’s full goal and create deterrence within society, it even portrays a fake capture of Montag so that citizens know that the hound will follow through with its job of capturing criminals (Bradbury, 1981). The media also limits what is seen by its citizens so that they are not made “unhappy”. For example, Montag mentions hearing rumors about citizens in other countries starving, but it is not a focus of the media because it is not a positive topic (Bradbury, 1981).
In order to control how social agents effect individuals, the government creates virtual families through the use of the “parlor walls” (Bradbury, 1981). Mildred develops such a deep relationship with her virtual family, that she tends to put them above her own husband. This is seen when Montag is sick and asks her to turn the parlor walls off; instead of accommodating her sick husband but turning them off, she only offers to turn them down (Bradbury, 1981). Towards the end of the book, when Mildred learns that her house is going to be burned down, her primary concern is not her husband, but her parlor family (Bradbury, 1981).
Individuals that do not conform with the societal norms set in the book are as viewed as “abnormal”, rare, and even deviant. For example, when first meeting Clarisse, Montag is surprised by her use of other forms of entertainment involving socializing with people and exploring the outdoors. Society’s definition of socialization has shifted from actually socializing with other individuals, to heavily relying on technology as a form of socialization. This leads to the fellow students to view Clarisse as anti-social, even though she enjoys socializing with others (Bradbury, 1981). Clarisse also mentions that she was sent to a psychiatrist to find out why she likes to hike, watch birds, and collect butterflies (Bradbury, 1981).
There are also several forms of external social control seen in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. External social control relies heavily on the use of positive and negative reinforcements to shape behavior (Chriss, 2013). This can be seen by the use of law, firemen, punishment in school, and bullying by peers in order to promote conforming behavior. There are three subcategories of external control: proximate, sequential, and social control (Chriss, 2013). In Fahrenheit 451 the firemen exhibit forms of proximate control by physically removing books from individuals and burning them. Sequential control uses chain of command, telephone, the internet, or face-to-face interaction to change behavior; this is seen by Mildred and her friends “pulling the alarm” to report Montag to the authorities for reading poetry ( Bradbury,1981).
In Fahrenheit 451, society was shaped to view certain behaviors and actions including reading, exploring, socializing, and learning as deviant (Bradbury, 1981). The result of this is seen by the use of informal social control in the book. Informal social control uses society’s opinion or reaction towards a certain behavior or belief in order to shape behavior (Chriss, 2013). This form of social control does not punish deviant individual’s through the use of the law, instead it uses forms of social punishment (Chriss, 2013). In Fahrenheit 451, individuals that chose to read books instead of watching television or listening to music were viewed as social outcasts within society (Bradbury, 1981).
Social change modifies the way people work, raise a family, educate their children, govern themselves, and seek meaning in life (Vago, 2013). It can also lead to restructuring the ways that people within a society relate to each other with government, education, and even family life (Vago, 2013). In Fahrenheit 451, the increased reliance on technology is the one of the causes of social change within society. Mildred seems to have a closer relationship with technology than people for example, when Montag asks Mildred if she remembers where they met, she states she does not (Bradbury, 1981). Technological growth affects the psychological and social well-being of individuals. When Montag informs Mildred of the effects of burning the woman she is and is very insensitive to the effects this event has had on her husband (Bradbury, 1981). For example, Mildred indicates that she hates the woman, even though this is a woman that she doesn’t know (Bradbury, 1981).
Law is used as a tool of formal social control by its use of restricting individuals from owning and reading books. New law can be created as a response to social change, but also as the result of social change (Vago, 2013). Alterations in social conditions, technology, knowledge, values and attitudes may also cause a legal change; law is reactive follows the social change (Vago, 2013). In Fahrenheit 451, law is used as both a dependent and independent variable. For example, law is put into place as a result of society viewing books and knowledge as something that could potentially make them unhappy. In this context, law is being used as a result of social change; however, it is also used as the result of social change in order to keep citizens conforming.
The use of the law and legal system as a tool to promote social change is known as legal control. This form of social control relies heavily on individuals having fear of the consequences that go along with breaking the law (Chriss, 2013). The Hound, in Fahrenheit 451, is used to enforce the laws created by the government to gain control as well as the government’s manipulation of technology to help attain its goal of control over society. The firemen are also agents of legal control through their new responsibility of carrying out the law and ensure that books are eliminated by burning them and monitoring members of society that tend to be a threat to this. Instead of the perceived idea that firemen burn books to keep society happy, they actually are doing it to keep individuals from reading new ideas and limiting individual thoughts that could be threatening to the government’s ultimate goal of a conformed society. Beatty suggests that firemen are used as the judge, jury, and even executioner of those that deviate without any form of due process (Bradbury, 1981).
“Fahrenheit 451” By Ray Bradbury – The Importance Of Literature
Literature has an overwhelming approach in today’s world, it connects the world literature with one another. Literature record detailed human experiences from the past which people are able to connect on levels of sentiment and desire. Literature is a form of art which reflects the society. Literature has a significant impact on the development of society, it changes constitutional system, shapes civilization and exposes injustice. People develop new ideas and ways of thinking about the world through studying literature. Literature involves the contemplation of the essence of society and how individuals work within the confines of society’s structure. Something that ought to be given more attention is that people need to understand how literature motivates and reflect the individual’s society. It brings a general sense of “spiritual” well-being and different sentiments.
Studying literature is an eye-opening experience and helps in construction of valuable society and enriches people’s life. People understand the philosophical ideas and movements that pervaded different cultures at different time periods through studying literatures. The role of literature could be divided into two types, active and passive-engaging and reflective. The action of reading and writing represent the active role of literature which could be a major development of an individual. People form ideas and opinions about the society. These ideas and opinions then form into an ideology derives people’s engagement, motivation, and action in the society. The reflective role of literature is more about observed things rather than done things, people observe and then derive them to think. The ideologies and action are major developments of a society.
In the book “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, the author creates a dystopian society where books have been forbidden. Author often speaks to the readers through the characters. First, Clarisse, a young girl represents individuality, free-thinking, and artist in the story. She represents the conflict for the society. In early of the novel, conversations between Montag and Clarisse, she mentions how the society get caught up with speed where people desire fast things and instant feelings and how their lives become feelingless and superficial. And Captain Beatty, the captain of the firemen who holds an anti-book rage. He hates the contradictory of books, he hates to think because thinking does not give him the “instant” answer. Says Beatty, “speed up the film, Montag, quick… Whirl man’s mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!”. He misses the point of literature, he misses the importance of literature because he wants everything fast and faster. Also, Beatty tells Montag how the society came to become the way it is now earlier in the story, because certain people were offended by certain books, so they cleansed of anything seen as offensive to the point where they had no meaning or value things because they were so bland which caused people to stop reading and eventually to stop thinking, too.
Books, says in the book, is where the “norms” will receive the knowledge. This definition is just accurate for the society in the story. People in the society only know what is told to them in a very diluted way. Bradbury warns against censorship. Bradbury is encouraging people to read. By having Beatty says of what happen to a civilization if they only want live fast life thus miss the importance of reading, of literature, of life.
Often, author speaks through the character, Professor Faber, an educated man who was a former teacher, and someone who still in love with books because he remembers the how the life was before books became illegal. Faber still can remembers the power of written words and the emotions he receives from reading literature, and the impact of books on others. However, he has been living under shame, since he was unwilling to publicly revoke new laws of turning firemen into book-burners. Faber repeatedly reminds readers the purpose of literature serve in human civilization. He defines the value of books by saying it is not book Montag needs to be look for, but the contents and thoughts that writer put in the book. These ideas, beliefs, emotions, views, life meaning in the books are the what define literature-their true value. Books, to Faber were “only one receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget”. To Faber, books are where people stored their great thoughts and the result of their conscientious comprehensions undertaken by humans. Faber also says, “Books show the pores in the face of life.” By saying this, he means that books allow people to think and to form their own opinions and ideas based on reality, even if the reality isn’t always pretty. People can have well rounded knowledge through different angels of view. Faber then goes on to say the knowledge is out there in the world can also be found and be gained in books through the extensive experience, yet not everyone gets the opportunities to get all the experience needed, therefore, it is where books came in.
Through this book, Bradbury wants people to understand the importance of literature, both active role and passive role of literature- reading and thinking. He constantly reminds readers the consequences of not appreciate literatures in the book. The quote, “You don’t have to burn book to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them” pretty much sums up the main message he wants to develop through this book. People do not need to hurt literature “physically”, that won’t be the worst way to treat literature. The worst way to treat literature is not reading it, waste the chance to understand the unknown things, waste all the ideologies and emotions that writers put in, and waste the opportunity to live a better live. All these wastes eventually lead you to destruction, or more, lead the whole civilization to destruction.
Fate And Free Will in ‘Fahrenheit 451’
Fate and free will is a topic that can go in a variety of ways. I personally believe that we are raised to recognize the choices given to us, their impact on our actions and the effects they have on our daily lives. With free will, we can take one path or the other and see where the road takes us. But, our future does not always turn out the way we plan it, due to the free will we perpetrate. As a result, we create our own destiny with our own actions every single day.
In the book Fahrenheit 451, the main character Guy Montag, faces lots of examples of free will. Throughout the passage, Montag is able to carry out his duties of burning books without any issues. However, when he started to become curious about these books, he began to doubt everything. On one evening, he was forced to burn a stack of books that was owned by an old woman that absolutely did not want to leave her books. Consequently, the old woman committed suicide because she did not want to abandon her belongings, including the books. When Montag finds out the truth and the effects of reading the books, he takes action by carrying out his free will and it motivates him to create his own destiny. With that, he decided to steal a book. Moreover, Montag carries out his free will when he decides to go against the law and read the book. This is one of the many events that started to change his views.
Later in the text it mentions other characters, Clarisse and Professor Faber that also take part in changing his views. Throughout this story, the people are either supposed to follow society or use their free will to shape their own destiny. Towards the end of the book, his destiny is changed when he meets a group of people that encouraged him to follow his dream of changing the world with books.
In conclusion, every day, with every action, every thought, and decision we make, we are exercising our free will. The result is that we are carving out our future. Hopefully, all of these factors will shape our lives as we hoped it to be. Unfortunately, sometimes those same actions take us down a different road and lead us to a completely different place just like it did with Montag.
Analysis Of The Book ‘Fahrenheit 45’ By Ray Bradbury
The dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, is the tale of what happens when books are considered illegal and people are forced to enjoy the books in secret. Fahrenheit 451 was written Ray Bradbury in 1953 and has been considered his best work. Bradbury was born August 22, 1920 and wrote Fahrenheit 451 at the age of 33. In 2004, Bradbury won the Pulitzer award for his literature. During his young years, he wanted to be a writer. His first official writing payment was towards a show, the Burns & Allen Show starring George Burns. After high school, he did not attend college due to his lack of money, so he resorted to going to the local libraries. For ten years, he would go to the library three days a week, Bradbury then told A&E that “Libraries raised me.” To earn some cash and support himself, he would go and sell newspapers, published short stories in magazines and even got his first four issues of Futuria Fantasia published in his own fan magazine. His first professional piece was the Pendulum which he published in 1941 and later that year he met the woman he would soon marry, Marguerite McClure. McClure would spend days as a Breadwinner, or someone who earns money to support the family. She used the money to support Bradbury in his work. This led to the writing of Fahrenheit 451. It became a classic instantly because of its themes, censorship and conformity.
Fahrenheit 451 takes place in America but it is never confirmed where in America it takes place. There were a few complications in this story, including an overdose, Guy Montag questioning why he burns books and basically murders people, and Montag taking books and hiding them in his house. The first complication was the overdose. Guy came home to find his wife, Millie had overdosed on sleeping pills. She was almost dead but the “medics” came to his house and saved her, making insensitive jokes. Montag hated them for making those jokes but had to be okay with it because they saved his wife. After that happened, Montag was at work and they were called to a house where they found a woman who had books. She refused to leave the house, even though Montag begged for her to come out of the house. He was forced to burn the books and the woman inside the house. This left Montag traumatized and confused, it made him question why he was in his line of work. This event also has him bring home a book. He hid it under his pillow and claimed to feel sick the next day. Millie was aware of the book and when his boss came to check on him she almost turned him in but he did manage to get away with it. He explained what happened with the book and then showed her the stache of books he had hidden. Montag and his wife decide they want to try and read the books Montag had found. Montag wanted to keep reading the books but Millie did not. She preferred the TV and the characters of the TV show she was watching. Montag was not going to give up so easily so he went on a search for someone he could talk about his findings with. Montag told Faber that wanted to hide books in the homes of the other firemen so they will become suspects. Faber does not agree at first, so Montag goes into a rage. After the rage Faber finally says he would help. Later, Montag returns home to discuss his plan with Millie but he is not able to. She had friends over and all they seemed to be doing was talking so Montag decided to read a poem. The women were moved but they were not able to tell Montag what part of the poem moved them. Faber uses his new invention, a two-way radio, to talk to Montag and tell him to tell the woman that he really did not mean anything and then burn the book. Montag refused and was telling the women that they had “empty” and “meaningless” lives.
At the end of the book, Montag has been told to set fire to his home by Beatty but Montag wants to. He wants everything in that house gone. Beatty also threatens to go after Faber after he spots the two way radio in his ear. Finally, Montag attacks Beatty with liquid fire and he collapses. The police, firemen, and the mechanical hound are now after him. He returns to Faber and finds out that war had been declared in his town. On his way to Faber, he stops at his house to collect books that Millie did not burn. Closer to Faber’s home, he has to cross a road, a very dangerous road. People travel at high speeds and hit people crossing the roads without a second spot. On top of it being dangerous because of the drivers lack of worry for human life, Montag was crippled in his leg. He knows if he does not pass, he will certainly die, so he goes across. He is almost hit but he gets across unharmed. He stops at a house, a fireman’s house. He leaves the books in the kitchen and calls in a fire alarm to frame him. He leaves knowing the fireman’s home will be burned. Montag finally gets to Faber and they discuss an escape plan. This is when he learns that the firemen unleashed a new mechanical hound for the manhunt on Montag. Montag is instructed to cross the river then go down the railroad tracks while Faber goes on a bus. Montag escapes the hound so the police uses an innocent man as “Montag’s Murderer” since no one has ever seen Montag. Montag meets an outcast named Granger. Granger is the leader of this group of outcasts. Granger tells him about the ways of avoiding the authorities. By reading and memorizing a book and then burning them. Each person memorizes parts of them and that person is that part of the book. Soon, they are forced to move camps because of the oncoming war. They find out after they move that the city was destroyed. They are all quite shocked and feel like they need to help the city so they all return, including Montag, to help with what they can.
The major theme in Fahrenheit 451 was censorship. The whole reason the government got rid of books was to have some sort of censorship. They did not want to have people to be able to have that fantasy mindset. They wanted them to only be able to watch and see people act out things on television and not be able to imagine things. Imagination was the last thing the government wanted people to have. They were censoring the world from the imagination that books can give people. Another theme that this book had was conformity. The government forced everyone to conform and have everyone be the same. Clarisse was different and everyone did not like her. Everyone believed she and her family was someone who had books even though when they looked they never found anything. Conforming to standards was important to the government and if you were different it was like you were cast out of society and no one would like you or want to be around you. Clarisse was different, she did not conform to and she was cast out. She came up to Montag and told him that most people pushed her away because she is different and does not conform to society’s standards but she was happy that he did not.
The main character in Fahrenheit 451 was Guy Montag. He was a fireman that had to burn books, houses, and sometimes people when they had a fire alarm. He was one man who questioned his job and really did not want to work there after he witnessed the death of a woman who had been caught with books and did not want to leave her house. Guy was someone who did not want to go through that kind of trauma anymore, so he did not. He did not go to work that next day, he said he was sick and refused to go in. Montag seemed to be someone who was very impressionable. Clarisse made a very big impression on him and he only saw her a few times for a few blocks to and from work. The woman in the house made a massive impression on him and he did not even know her personally. She seemed to be the reason that he became the “rebellious” outcast at the end of the book.
The book had a very good impact on me. I think that it did not really have much to do with biblical issues, the bible does not have much to do with conformity or censoring things. The book did impact me in a good way, it made me think about the way our world could turn. We are going farther and farther away from reading books and people do not like reading books as much as they used to. This is an issue that should be fixed or helped because I do not want our world to turn into the world that Guy Montag lives in. The type of world Guy lives in is a world that is a world that no one should have to live in. Imagination is something I could not live without, and the world Montag lives in lacks imagination. I do think that my peers should read this book. I hope that they think the somewhat of the same idea as I do because I do think that the lack of reading is an issue and it is something that needs to be addressed.
The ownership and reading of books is prohibited in Fahrenheit 451
In Fahrenheit 451, the ownership and reading of books is prohibited. Members of society focus only on entertainment, immediate gratification, and speeding through life. If books are found, they are burned and their owner is placed under immediate arrest. If the owner refuses to abandon the books, however, he or she often dies, burning along with them. Near the beginning of the novel, an old woman burns alongside her books.
Her life has been condemned as all that she loves and believes in is about to be destroyed when the firemen arrive: “‘Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out’”(Bradbury ). She may hope that her sacrifice will awaken people to the significance and importance of preserving the recordings of the thoughts and deeds of great men and women. As it turns out, Montag, who is part of the crew that has come to set fire to the books, is disturbed by the woman’s refusal to leave her house. Throughout the entirety of Fahrenheit 451, the author does not give a clear explanation as to why the illegality of books has become so in great in this society.
Rather, the author only provides a few allusions to possible causes. Fast cars, loud music, and massive advertisements create an overstimulated society without room for literature, self-reflection, or appreciation of nature. People with interests outside of technology and entertainment are viewed as abnormalities and possible threats. Bradbury gives the reader a brief description of how society slowly lost interest in books, first condensing them, then relying simply on titles, and finally forgetting about them all together. The technologies Bradbury describes in Fahrenheit 451 are all the result of a society that has embraced entertainment over knowledge. In Fahrenheit 451, censorship is shown through the fireman system, a system which prevents education and the freedom of expression by burning books.
Censorship is shown through the books that they burn. People aren’t allowed to read books, and that is the most extreme form of censorship that exists. Not only this, but people talking is looked down upon. The opening line of Bradbury’s novel is, “It was a pleasure to burn” (). Firemen seemed to enjoy their status as book burners. The banning and burning of books creates a dystopian society. This society is one of unhappiness and sorrow. The censorship in Fahrenheit 451 also causes characters to become mindless. The characters have no control over their lives. Millie’s dependency on her television family played a role in Montag’s obsession with finding out what it was that made books so evil.
What was so bad about them they had to be banned? Seeing Millie become so obsessed with television programs was very disturbing to Montag: (cit.) He saw how Millie was becoming mindless, unable to think for herself.
How People Destroy Themselves and Each Other in Fahrenheit 451
A wife overdoses on medication, much to the distress of her husband; a woman watches as the room in which she stands is doused in kerosene before she takes it upon herself to strike the first match; a Fire Captain hands a flamethrower to one of his subordinates and orders him to aim it at him – at the Captain himself – and pull the trigger. These three suicide attempts –: one successful, one not so, and the other enacted as a murder – embody the theme of self-destruction that runs throughout Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’, and each of them represents a different facet of that theme: involuntary self-destruction, voluntary self-destruction, and voluntary self-destruction in order to pre-empt an involuntary self-destruction. Mildred Montag’s overdose implies a dissatisfaction with the world as it is, and a desire to escape into something less real, more passive, an indirect and involuntary kind of self-destruction. The old woman’s voluntary death entails an immense satisfaction with the world that is taken from her, and no desire whatsoever to live a life without some element of that world in it. And Captain Beatty’s death at the hands of Guy Montag represents a combination of both of the above – a man torn between fondness and duty, between an affection for that which he destroys, and for the process of destruction itself.
Mildred’s self-destruction is one common trait of the majority of the citizens in the society depicted in the novel, and hers is a path that Montag risks following – at least until the moment his curiosity gets the better of him and he opens the covers of a book. “I am a cowardly old fool,”, says the English professor Faber, being the placid kind of man that Montag will devolve into if he does not immediately rebel against the system that oppresses him. “Proof of my terrible cowardice: I’ve lived alone so many years, throwing images on walls with my imagination.” Faber is what Montag will become if he allows Mildred to desensitize him. “She was beginning to shriek now,” we are told of Mildred when Montag looks at his wife through new eyes after their argument, “sitting there like a wax doll melting in its own heat.” Mildred’s self-destruction is of the involuntary, passive variety, she does not so much destroy herself as she allows herself to rot away slowly. Her world is a dream-world for which she abandons reality: she is unconscious when we meet her, having overdosed on pills designed to make her sleep and recede into dreams. When she comes to, she is filled with denial and claims she would never have done such a thing, later she has her own name inserted into a television program and so she is literally absorbed into a fictional world. And finally, she replaces her husband with the cartoon White Clowns to the point where Montag asks her: “Does the White Clown love you? …Does your ‘family’ love you, love you with all their heart and soul, Millie?”
The answer, of course, is no, but like so much between Montag and Mildred, it remains unspoken. Indeed, speaking aloud is the means by which Montag very nearly engages in his own self-destruction: he recites a poem to Mildred and her friends, and reduces one of them to tears, which causes the others to turn on him. The anger he provokes results in his downfall. This, however, can hardly come as a surprise to him, and even less so to Faber, who listens to the poetry recital via Montag’s earpiece: “You’ll ruin everything,”, he insists, “Shut up, you fool!” – but Montag persists, the poetry is read aloud, and later, after the women have left his house, they turn to the authorities and point their fingers at him. “It was pretty silly, quoting poetry around free and easy like that,” Beatty warns Montag during their final confrontation. “It was the act of a silly damn snob. Give a man a few lines of verse and he thinks he’s the Lord of all Creation.” Ironic, given that only a few moments later when Montag has a flamethrower trained on him, it is Beatty who quotes poetry: “Why don’t you belch Shakespeare at me, you fumbling snob? ‘There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats, for I am arm’d so strong in honesty that they pass me as an idle wind, which I respect not!’”
This is not the first demonstration of Beatty’s literary knowledge. Earlier, he refers to the myth of Icarus and Daedalus, he quotes Jonathan Swift, and alludes to Biblical passages. Also, he understands a reference to religious persecution made by the aforementioned old woman before she sets herself ablaze. How is it that a man, who leads investigations into houses, in order to burn the illegal and outlawed books they have, knows so much about literature himself? Moreover, how is he still able to display some visible level of affection for literature – one that Montag shares, but which, unlike Beatty, he is not allowed to show to the outside world? With his knowledge of and resentment for literature, Beatty embodies the conflict between both literature’s destruction and its appreciation – and so his actions and his speeches indirectly give voice to the reasons why the burning of literature is self-destructive, even if his actual words dictate why it is a positive thing.
“Not everyone [is] born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone [is] made equal,”, Beatty tells Montag in one of many examples of a revisionist history accepted by the society of this world. “Each man is the image of every other, then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.” Therein lies the essence of the evolution of book-burning, as well as the essence of its self-destructive nature. Like Mildred’s involuntary self-destruction, book-burning evolved not from active opposition to literature, but from a passive attraction to other materials. “The world got full of eyes and elbows and mouths,”, Beatty tells Montag. “Films and radios, magazines, books [were] leveled down to a sort of pastepudding norm. …Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows. …School [was] shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored.” Essentially, Beatty details the devolution of literature – indeed, of ‘thinking’ itself and its replacement by graphic intake, films and drawings and photographs. “More cartoons in books. More pictures. The mind drinks less and less. …Books, so the damned snobbish critics said, were dishwater. No wonder books stopped selling, the critics said. …There you have it. It didn’t come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship,” Beatty says of the process by which books were banned, before he adds the qualifier: “to start with.”
Those three words – “to start with” – embody everything that is self-destructive about the book-burning of the society depicted in the novel. It is self-destructive because, most conspicuously, Beatty’s assertions with regard to the validity of book-burning do not stand to reason. He claims that society’s individuals lost interest in literature because nothing of value was being produced – books were “dishwater” – but that could not possibly entail a mass abandonment of fiction altogether, particularly when so much of value has already been accumulated by society to begin with – just because no new books of any worth are being produced, there is no reason to abandon hundreds of years of books that do hold some value.
More importantly, however, is that book-burning is self-destructive because it is a violation of individuality and individual rights. Beatty uses this notion to his advantage – “all men made equal” – but here, he fails to add the qualifier that should appear at the end of that statement: “All men made equal, resulting in mass mediocrity, with no man given the opportunity to disrupt or ascend beyond that equality.” That is to say, book-burning is self-destructive because it removes the individual’s choice as to whether or not he or she wishes to indulge in literature. Certainly, even if there were such a world in which society lost interest in fiction and books, there must be some individuals who would still choose to pursue literature for pleasure. These individuals do exist in this world – in the form of Montag, of course, and Beatty to an extent, and most notably in the form of Faber and the group of men Montag meets outside the city – but it is not merely their right to read books that has been taken from them: they have also lost their right to choose to read books. Book-burning, therefore, is self-destructive on both a physical and metaphysical levels: it denies indulgence in physical literature – pages and printed words – but it also denies an individual the right to use his or her metaphysical free will, and in doing so, we realize that it is self-destructive because it nullifies the very thing that makes us truly human in the first place.
However, this is not the extent of its self-destruction, it is only the most visible extent. Worse than this destruction of literature and free will is the destruction of truth. How do we know that the story Beatty tells Montag is real? In fact, we know that Beatty lies on several occasions: “When did it all start, you ask, this job of ours, how did it come about, where, when? Well, I’d say it really got started around a thing called the Civil War.” This is not true, firefighters, as we know, have never been employed to burn books, and such a trend did not arise during the Civil War. Even Beatty disputes this claim, but with another lie: “I’d say it really [started during] the Civil War. Even though our rulebook claims it was founded earlier.” If Beatty disputes one important element of his own code of conduct, how can we be sure that anything in that code is true? Instead, we realize that with the above time frame given for the inception of the firemen, as well as other claims such as that houses have always been fire-proof, the citizens of this story live in a world that has fallen victim to a fictional past, as in the aforementioned revisionist history. The history of this society has been glossed-over, deleted, lost and destroyed, re-built and re-written as propaganda, and almost all actual historical truth has been lost, resulting in a world which very identity is one of dualistic irony: a world that shuns fiction, yet is almost wholly built upon lies. Beatty even let’s slip this inconsistency, perhaps subconsciously: he calls Montag a “fumbling snob” for reciting poetry, and he calls the critics of the past “snobs” for denouncing books. Who, then, does he believe to be the real “snob”: those who love fiction, or those who ridicule it? He inconsistency believes in truth that he works hard to conceal: that he knows, somehow, that the laws he upholds are a facade; that, at the very least, they could not have been founded upon any actual history and are instead a product of fiction dressed up as fact.
Beatty continues to explain how book-burning came about: “You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have our minorities upset and stirred. …Colored people don’t like ‘Little Black Sambo’. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’. Burn it. …Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with.” It is due to the sensitivity of minority groups, Beatty says, that book-burning was put in place; the government did not want any disruption on behalf of those groups. This, then, is an ironic example of a more ‘positive’ kind of self-destruction, at least from the point-of-view of Montag and Faber: in its aim to not offend minority groups, the book-burning decree has instigated the creation of a new minority group that eventually overturns it. And, more ironic still, in order to enforce that decree the government has employed the firemen, yet it is one of those same firemen who joins a rebellion against the government and the decree it attempts to uphold.
“At least once in his career, every fireman gets an itch,” says Beatty. “What do the books say, he wonders. Oh, to scratch that itch, eh? Well, Montag, take my word for it, I’ve had to read a few in my time, to know what I was about, and the books say nothing!” Notice that Beatty did not read books to know what they were about but to know what he was about, and the books gave him answers – they gave his life a purpose, even if he does not realize that fact. “[The books say] nothing you can teach or believe,” he insists, yet Beatty continually uses the contents of books throughout the novel to teach Montag; their relationship, until Montag rebels against Beatty, is a teacher-student relationship. Though they do eventually become opponents, Montag finds a thematic counterpart of sorts in Beatty as, on a more personal and less societal level, they engage together in voluntary self-destruction in order to pre-empt their involuntary self-destruction. That is, they each suspect they will follow in the footsteps of Mildred, rotting away with passivity, so they deliberately choose to follow in the footsteps of the old woman instead, to challenge those who demand that they not do certain things – to challenge even the laws they have sworn to uphold – in order to prevent themselves from dissolving into nothingness.
Like Mildred, both Montag and Beatty are slowly decaying. Montag, first, admits to himself that he is unhappy – “I don’t know anything anymore,” he says. And similarly, Beatty’s violent antagonism springs from the frustration he feels with regard to his obvious and paradoxical affection for literature, and for his duty to not only hide that affection but to burn its source. Beatty, for all his long, portentous speeches, consistently reveals more about himself through what he doesn’t say rather than by the actual words he uses: “Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?” he asks, without openly acknowledging that he himself is a well-read man: “Me? I won’t stomach [a well-read man] for a minute.” Here, he subconsciously indicates his own feelings of self-loathing – the same feelings that ultimately prompt him to order the flamethrower-wielding Montag to “Go ahead now, you second-hand litterateur, pull the trigger.”
Montag obeys him, and only later does he realize that “Beatty wanted to die. …He had just stood there, not really trying to save himself.” With these words, Montag might just as easily be describing Mildred, if only Mildred had taken control of her own decay instead of simply sitting by and allowing it to happen to her. Unlike Mildred, both Beatty and Montag would rather be destroyed than allow themselves to decay. And so, they both openly and unreservedly share literature and literary allusions with other people – even though it is explicitly illegal because, with neither man being able to destroy himself consciously, they are both aware that the consequences of such actions will serve to destroy them instead: essentially, they both flirt with self-destruction by enticing and provoking some reaction or retribution from the world whose rules they are breaking. Just as the old woman insists to them both “I want to stay here” as her house goes up in flames, so too does Beatty recite ‘Julius Caesar’, while Montag recites ‘Dover Beach’: three different actions, each with the same intention of self-destruction. Only two of those individuals, however, succeed in being destroyed, while the last, Montag, survives, and eventually uses the same passion for literature that nearly led to his death to rebuild an entire world that has destroyed itself.
Ultimately, it is this ability to rebuild that sets Montag apart from his contemporaries and his society, and even apart from Faber, for, unlike Faber, Montag is as much against the self-destruction of his society as he is a product of it. He neither completely denounces it nor does he completely accept it; rather, he agrees to carry out Faber’s joking suggestion that they plant books in the houses of firemen in order to ‘solve’ the problem of firemen and book-burning altogether.
“Fire is bright and fire is clean,” says Beatty; his solution is to destroy. “Do your own bit of saving,” says Faber, “and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore”; his solution is to create something better. Neither of these extremes will work as a ‘solution’ for the problems faced by a society that is founded on a fiction, and that denounces all other fiction. The only solution is to arrive at a compromise, to play by the rules of society in order to break them: “When you’ve got nothing to lose,” says Montag, “you run any risk you want.” This, then, is how he overcomes the obstacles of this book-burning society – he understands both the disease of self-destruction and its cure. And so it is that this self-destructive society is itself destroyed under his watch, and is rebuilt into something altogether more constructive by way of his hands.
The Tone and Mood of Self Reflection in ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451
Everything within the trailer depicts the overall tone and mood of self reflection. The movie trailer for Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, begins with a full shot of a major explosion, and then cuts to the scene of an advanced society all at eye level. This scene is included to draw in the audience’s attention, as it helps bring curiosity to the events leading up to the explosion. This tone of curiosity is included in the first scene to get the audience thinking, which is crucial for the next scene as it is referring to the daily lives of people in this society. Through the use of both full and mid shots along with high angle and eye level, you can visualize the aspects of their society that are similar to our own society along with aspects that show, how we ultimately have the potential of becoming like them if we stay on a blinded course. This idea makes the scene more relatable, therefore further engaging the audience at a greater extent. The scenes of lifestyle are shown in a negative way intentionally in order to develop a disgraceful tone. The scene following depicts Montag is emerging as an enlightened being.
The brief scene following depicts Clarisse, through through the use of mid shots and eye level angle with Clarisse being in front on the camera. This is meant to show how Clarisse is more enlightened than Montag, as well as showing how Montag is enlightened by Clarisse. Beatty is depicted in this scene as he is crucial to the book. He is shown when the audience sees someone burning a house down whereas the house represents Montag’s house burning which is a symbol of essentially the “death” of fireman Montag and the man being Beatty. This scene also includes the moment just before Montag jumps in the water and looks over it. This scene in connection with the biblical reference made in the book and ultimately symbolizes purity and rebirth. These scenes were chosen as they all allude to the idea of a new beginning, and the opportunity to a have a second chance at life, which allows to convey a tone of rebirth. The following scene conveys the obstacles he had to overcome during his early enlightenment phase. This scene depicts Faber through showing his lessons, while a train is driving away from the city. This train represents the scene where Montag is trying to understand the bible, but isn’t grasping the message of the book. Also, this scene includes where he is running away, and trying to get away from the city.
The use of high and eye levels angles in conjunction with mid and close shots, the center of attention is able to be placed on Montag, and shows him as someone who is looking down upon and he is going against the culture of the society. These scenes were chosen as they display key milestones in Montag’s development as an intellectual which are important to understand the story and Montag’s evolution in society. The scenes of Montag trying to break free from the influence of society conveys a tone of rebellious or mutinous. Also following is another explosion. The purpose of this explosion however, is meant to show the ultimate consequence of the society’s actions. Lastly, Montag and his group return to the destroyed city, shown by the truck driving towards the city on fire to start a new society. This is to show Montag new beginning with his group of intellectuals. The tone of this scene is meant to be hopeful, intense and optimistic as they essentially now have a second chance at life.
The Literature Characters Who Faced Adversity
End Of Term Semester Exam – Semester
Jamais Cascio once said, “Resilience is all about able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive.” As an individual, you have the choice on how you react to unexpected problems, and how you react and plan your next move will determine your outcome and your future. Some individuals crumble for making a wrong move and fail in the process, but some make a wise move and thrive and usually keep making wiser decisions as the progress. There are exceptionally great characters that faced adversity and took control of their future. These characters would be Minerva, in Julia Alvarez’s novel, “In Time Of The Butterflies, Katniss, in Suzanne Collins novel, “The Hunger Games”, and Montag, in Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451”.
Minerva is a strong individual who faced adversity and then took control of her life. Minerva shows how resilient she is in many parts of her novel. She once said, “We cannot give up” (Alvarez 269). Following with her previous statement, she then said, “Adversity was like a key in the lock for me” (Alvarez 269). Minerva is explaining how obstacles in her path helps her open up her inner-strength, which makes her determined,fearless, and a difficult opponent to tackle on. Minerva is the type of person who likes to get the job done no matter how bad the road is. Minerva has run into trouble and she said, “I’m not gonna going to run scared” (Alvarez 193). This quote shows that she is determined and brave to complete her goal, She isn’t scared to tackle intimidating obstacles that could stop her. Adversity will not stop this brave individual who is trying to achieve her goal. Adversity makes Minerva into a more stronger, resilient person, and thats why she can take on adversity and then takes control of her life.
Katniss is another individual who faced adversity and then took control of her life. When the only supplier in Katniss’s family dies, which would be her father, and a mother who is in a deep depression that she can’t support her own children, who could step up? Katniss, the older sibling stands up to save her family.Katniss once said, “At eleven years old, with Prim just even, I took over as head of the family” (Collins 61, eBook)
As a result for Katniss who becomes the head of the family, with the survival and hunting skills that her father taught her before he passed away, she starts going to the forbidden outskirts of district 12, she hunts animals to keep her family alive, and becomes into a tough, unsentimental girl. Living in the districts under the control of the Capitol, you must be strong, ruthless to survive, and being nice and gentle is a disadvantage. Someone could potentially take advantage of you and do his/her bidding. In a part of Part I in the novel, she shows that she sacrifices attachments to others in order to protect herself, except Prim, shes an exception. In order for Katniss to survive, she has adapted to be unsentimental. When she goes hunting to gather food for her family, she cannot hesitate to kill an animal that is potentially useful food for the family, or else her family starves to death. Katniss adapted to her environment and overcame adversity to keep her and her family alive, and thats why Katniss is a strong individual who faced adversity and took control of her family.
And lastly, Montag is the last strong individual who faced adversity and then took over his life. After Montag meets Clarisse, an unusual teenage girl in this novel’s world, his eyes opened to a world he had forgotten. She asks Montag one intriguing question in one point of this novel. She says, “Are you happy”? Montag then responds, “Am I what? he cried… Of course I’m happy. Then later in the novel, he says, “He was not happy, he was not happy. He said the words to himself” (Bradbury 28-34 eBook). Montag starts to consider other things she has pointed out and decides to embrace a new pathway to self discovery rather than living a meaningless, repressed existence in a society that expects no asking questions, let alone important ones. Montag then starts to use books, a forbidden item in this country where its illegal to keep and use. Instead of hiding books where its safe from being discovered from another person, Montag reveals his books to Millies, her wifes friends. The narrator then said, “But Montag was gone and back in a moment with a book in his hands.” Millie then tells on Betty, the chief of the fire department, the ones responsible for burning houses with books in them, and Montags boss. Then the firemen arrives in front of Montag’s house and starts burning it. Montag then kills Beatty with his flamethrower. Montag doesn’t back down when someone destroys what he loves. He has the courage to face Beatty and kill him. Montag won’t get pushed around like a ragdoll when what he believes is right, is being destroyed. And thats why Montag is another character who tackles on adversity and thrives when confronting and overcoming it.
In conclusion, these three strong individuals faced many hardships, and they tackled them and overcome it. They thrive by defeating these obstacles that blocks them from their goal. Overall, these are three special characters are the best at facing adversity and then took control of their future.
Ideas of the American Society in Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 invokes two paradigms of America: the paradigm of America in the 1950s, and the Puritan paradigm of America. This paper will discuss the way these paradigms manifest themselves in the text, the relation between them, and the way the author uses them to postulate his conceptualization of America’s history and future.
The paradigm of America in the 1950s manifests itself predominantly in six different aspects of the novel. First, the book burning in the novel’s dystopian America comments on the American public’s perception of book burning in the 1950s. In the aftermath of the Nazi bonfires that consumed numerous books, and the anti-Semitic burnings of Jewish books in Communist Russia, book burning became the emblem of tyranny in the Western world. The majority of the American public at the time conceptualized the book burner as the evil “other” – the Nazi or the Communist – and accordingly perceived America as the champion of freedom, which struggles incessantly against book burners and what they stand for (Faragher, 809). This notion of Americanness as the opposing force to book burning is destabilized in the novel by the nearly unanimous approbation of book burning by both the fictional American authorities and the fictional American public. Bradbury even directly encourages the reader to draw parallels between the fictional book burning and contemporary events, noting in the Coda: “There is more than one way to burn a book” (Bradbury, 176). Bradbury does not reveal to which events he is referring, but this comment resonates strongly with topical events in America in the early 1950s: protests and lawsuits of religious and parental organizations against what they deemed obscene literature led to the establishment of the Gathings Committee, which demanded that publishers impose restrictions on the content of the paperback novels they intend to publish (Speer, 154-55); simultaneously, two prominent members of the McCarthy administration undertook a campaign to “purge United States Information Agency libraries of more than thirty thousand works by Communists, fellow-travelers and unwitting promoters of the Soviet cause” (Ward, 2).
Second, the character of Faber, the involuntarily retired English professor, may allude to the McCarthy administration’s persecution of academics: five years prior to the publication of the novel, charges of Communist activities were filed against six faculty members of the University of Washington (Schrecker, 93). Third, the predominance of mass culture, and particularly mass media, in the dystopian America of the novel, reflects the rapid ascendancy of mass culture in 1950s America: the fictional American public’s preference of comic books over more complex and ambiguous texts (Bradbury, 57) reflects the substantial increase in the sales of comic books (Faragher, 809) and the simultaneous decline in paperback sales (Speer, 154) in 1950s America; the fictional American public’s obsession with their TV parlours corresponds to the unprecedented popularity of mass media in 1950s America, to such a degree that, according to Maldwyn A. Jones, “television soon took up more American leisure time than any other activity, becoming for most people the preferred form of entertainment as well as the main source of information about what was going on in the world” (Jones, 593-4). Fourth, the incessant subway commercial for Denham’s products (Bradbury, 79) and Mildred’s fierce desire to purchase further components for her TV parlour (Bradbury, 20) manifest the striking increase in American consumerism following World War II (Faragher, 851). Fifth, the alienation that permeates the novel reflects the sense of estrangement that plagued the American middle class in the 1950s (Mills, 182-7). The novel’s different levels of alienation each seem to manifest a certain facet of estrangement in 1950s America: Montag’s alienation from Mildred, due to her obsession with mass media – “‘I can’t talk to my wife; she listens to the walls.’” (Bradbury, 82) – may be construed as Bradbury’s critique of mass media as one of the causes of the high divorce rates in 1950s America (Stevenson, 28); Clarisse’s sense of isolation from her fellow classmates – “‘Oh, they don’t miss me,’ she said. ‘I’m antisocial, they say.’” (Bradbury, 29) – may allude to J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, which was first published in the United States in 1951 and became a milestone in the discussion of the alienation of American youths; finally, the indifference of the fictional American public to the suffering of the people of other countries – “we’re so rich and the rest of the world’s so poor and we just don’t care if they are” (Bradbury, 73) – may reflect the lack of concern of the 1950s American public for the plights of war-devastated Europe (Griffith, 23).
The sixth manifestation of the paradigm of 1950s America in the novel is the atomic bombing of the fictional American city. Following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Western liberals began to fear that humanity might utterly destroy itself. This fear was exacerbated by the revelation at the end of the 1940s that the Soviet Union had acquired the technology to create nuclear weapons (Hoskinson, 346). The American public was especially frightened by this intelligence, due to the United States’ Cold War with the Soviet Union. Bradbury incorporates this American fear into the novel, by retaining the contextual framework of America as the country that initiated atomic warfare – “‘we’ve started and won two atomic wars since 1990!’” (Bradbury, 73) – and adding a fictional tragic consequence: “Once the bomb release was yanked, it was over” (Bradbury, 158).
Towards the end of the novel, when Montag escapes into the wilderness, the text shifts from manifestations of the paradigm of America in the 1950s to manifestations of the Puritan paradigm of America. Montag’s escape corresponds to the Puritan journey to New England: like the Puritans, Montag exiles himself from a society that persecutes him, crosses a body of water, arrives at the virgin lands of America, and integrates into a new society founded on the very ideals that were the cause of his persecution. Furthermore, the sequence of scenes in which Montag emerges from the river that nearly drowned him and subsequently leads Granger and his companions towards a better future, invokes Moses’ crossing of the Red Sea and his guidance of the Israelites to the Promised Land. This Biblical allusion is consonant with the Puritan paradigm, because the Puritans perceived their journey to New England as a reenactment of the Exodus.
Another manifestation of the Puritan paradigm is Montag’s preservation of the Book of Ecclesiastes and the Book of Revelation in his mind, to the extent that he becomes these texts: “‘Montag… you are the book of Ecclesiastes’” (Bradbury, 151). In this context, Granger’s promise – “We’ll pass the books on to our children” (Bradbury, 152-3) – resonates with John Winthrop’s declaration that the ultimate goal of the Puritan settlement of America is “to encrease the body of christie… that our selves and posterity may be the better preserved” (Winthrop, 14). If we accept the notion that a subject’s words are an extension of his body, then by preserving the words of God and his Son for the purpose of passing them on to future generations, Montag is realizing the Puritan aspiration to augment the body of Christ for posterity. Moreover, Montag’s quotations from the Book of Ecclesiastes and the Book of Revelation – “To everything there is a season… And on either side of the river was there a tree of life” (Bradbury, 165) – manifest the Puritan paradigm by alluding to Puritan captivity narratives, such as Mary Rowlandson’s A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. These narratives are saturated with Biblical quotations that compare the depicted events, which take place in America, to Biblical scenes, with the express purpose of promoting the Puritan vision of America as the new Promised Land.
Having discussed the manifestations of the two paradigms of America in the novel, I would now like to explore the relationship between them. I suggest that this relationship can be extrapolated from the novel’s invocation of various elements from collective American past: the Mechanical Hound’s pursuit of Montag may be construed as a subtle reference to the hunting of fugitive African American slaves by the dogs of slave owners, which, according to Jon T. Coleman, “helped police human property… intimidated slaves and chased down runaways” (Coleman, 483); Beatty’s claim that book burning “really got started around a thing called the Civil War” (Bradbury, 54) alludes to the American Civil War; the Firemen rulebook refers to a Founding Father of the United States: “First Fireman: Benjamin Franklin” (Bradbury, 34). These intimations of American past indicate that the fictional America of the novel began to deteriorate towards the depicted dystopian state of affairs long before the McCarthy administration or the mass culture of the 1950s. By implicating Benjamin Franklin as the pioneer book burner, the author is suggesting that the very establishment of the United States by the Founding Fathers was a crucial factor in America’s gradual decline. Consequently, the author’s representation of the Puritan paradigm, which preceded the Founding Fathers, as an antithesis to his dystopian America, may be interpreted as an appeal for America to return to its origins. We may therefore conjecture that the author postulates the Puritan paradigm as the last prelapsarian vision of America, whereas the paradigm of America in the 1950s is a late stage in the country’s downfall.
The novel culminates with the fulfillment of John Winthrop’s warning that “if wee shall deale falsely… wee shall shame the faces of many of god’s worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into Cursses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whether wee are goeing” (Winthrop, 15). The people of the dystopian America indeed deal falsely both towards themselves and towards others, and we may surmise that they are cursed by their destitute neighbors, who wage war on them. Finally, they are in fact consumed by flames. Bradbury cremates the manifestations of the paradigm of America in the 1950s, in order to rekindle the Puritan paradigm of America. He takes America back to square zero, and entrusts the task of resettling it to Montag and his companions, who will be the new American pioneers. The novel concludes with their procession towards the city, thereby echoing the Puritan dream of America as “a Citty upon a Hill” (Winthrop, 15). Bradbury leaves the narrative open-ended, with the suggestion that perhaps the rebuilt city will be more faithful to the original vision. Readers can only hope that this time around, Montag and his descendants will create a new and better America.
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