Narrative Structure in Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” Essay
Updated: Sep 30th, 2020
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury follows the steps of a narrative structure. The typical structure of a story includes exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Ray Bradbury includes all of these steps in his short story making it possible to trace the development of the plot from the beginning until the end. The plot revolves around a fireman named Guy Montag and his choices. The actions of Montag and the changes in his view of the world mark the transition between elements of the story narrative structure.
In the exposition of the story, Guy Montag is introduced as a typical fireman of his time. The description of his pleasure at the sight of the burning fire, his actions, and the results of his doings speak strongly about a prominent change in the society of the future outlined by Bradbury. The exposition is presented by emotions and thoughts of the main character, and his interactions with other characters. Therefore, the place of action remains unspecified. By this ambiguousness, the author underlines that the latitude and longitude are not important. He describes the situation that can develop in every place in the world. The dialogue between Guy Montag and Clarisse McClellan presents information about the world they live in comparing it with the reality of Ray Bradbury. The introduction of Clarisse McClellan serves as a preface for the rising of action (Bradbury 4). Her questions disturb Guy Montag’s view of the world. Being a man of action, he is not used to analyzing his doings. Clarisse makes him question his happiness which will lead to the further development of the main character and the narrative.
The rising action is marked by Guy Montag’s intensive analysis of the life he leads and the world he lives in. He questions his happiness watching other people surrounding him. The attempts of his wife to commit suicide out of no particular reason serve as another driver for Montag to change his view of the world. In the exposition, he has been sure about his every action and enjoyed his job. As the majority of people around him, he has not analyzed the issues of life letting others do it for him. The rising action is developing with his will to find answers to his questions. The introduction of the Mechanical Hound is an important moment as it expresses the hidden fears of the main character (Bradbury 11).
The accident with a woman who lets firemen burn herself with her books changes his perception of his job. The rising conflict between Guy Montag and the society is outlined in his dialogues with his wife and Fire Captain Beatty. All further actions have a snowball effect that will lead to the outburst of the main conflict and climax of the story. Montag’s outburst of emotions in his dialogue with Captain Beatty is a clear sign of the development of the character (Bradbury 61). All other people around him live suppressing their feelings on the subconscious level. Montag’s realization of anger as his own emotion drives him to the conclusion that he has to read books to understand himself and the society. The disappearance of Clarisse and dialogues with Captain Beatty feed Montag’s fears and deductions concerning the importance of books. The decision of Montag to take and read some books that he is supposed to burn is the key moment that leads to the climax.
The climax of the story comes when Montag and other firemen drive to his own house. It marks the complete destruction of Montag’s previous life. He is left without a place to live and needs to run away from society. He comes face to face with all his fears. Montag encounters and flees from the Mechanical Hound. His pursuit and escape are the main outcomes of his conflict with society. After Montag jumps into the river, the climax ends with the change from the society of the city to the countryside with a limited group of people who are willing to pass the books they read to the future generations.
The following narration is characterized by the falling action. Montag’s conflict with society moves to the background as he learns new ways of living from the scholars in the countryside. The falling of action is marked by Montag’s realization of his place in life and the purpose of his existence. He has found answers to questions presented in the exposition of the story. The resolution of the conflict that has developed from the rising of action until the climax completes Montag’s development as a person. The further narration touches upon his plans for the future as a part of the scholars’ group.
The resolution comes with the destruction of Montag’s previous society by atomic bombs. This moment marks the beginning of a new era for people to build a better society on the ashes of the old city. Montag looks into the future contemplating how books will help them to create a new world.
In his short story, Ray Bradbury follows all the steps of a narrative structure. All elements of the plot are closely connected to the development of the main character. The story starts with the arising conflict between Guy Montag and the people around him and ends with the destruction of the society as a resolution of this confrontation.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Simon & Schuster, 2013.
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