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.
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