Visuals and Symbolism

By Lauren Johnson

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Clarisse's Imagination

“I tell them that sometimes I just sit and think. But won’t tell them what. I’ve got them running. And sometimes, I tell them, I like to put my head back, like this, and let the rain fall in my mouth. It tastes just like wine. Have you ever tried it?” (Bradbury 23).

Clarisse is constantly fascinated with the world. She is much different than the average person in her time just because she takes time to think and observe things around her. She is such a distinct character because of those things. Clarisse opens Montag’s eyes and shows him how beautiful things can be if you just take a second to think about what is around you. Clarisse serves as a very important character and vital part of the plot since she completely alters Montag’s outlook on life.

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Mind of its Own

“Montag had done nothing. His hand had done it all, his hand, with a brain of its own, with a conscience and a curiosity in each trembling finger, had turned thief. Now it plunged the book back under his arm, pressed it tight to sweating armpit, rushed out empty, with a magicians flourish! Look here! Innocent! Look!” (Bradbury 37-38).

Montag’s hand has become a mind of its own. It has become a rebel, shattering the strictest of rules; to not read/ own books. This is extraordinarily risky and something that any normal person would not even think of doing in his town. This shows that Montag secretly is against the system and the government’s way of doing things. He wants to read and fill himself with knowledge so he can fulfill his life and find the true meaning of happiness. Montag’s hand becoming a thief on its own is a symbol of Montag’s inner emotions.

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Dry Eyes

“For it would be the dying of an unknown, a street face, a newspaper image, and it was suddenly so very wrong that he had begun to cry, not at death but at the thought of not crying at death, a silly empty man near a silly empty woman, while the hungry snake made her still more empty” (Bradbury 44).

This piece of imagery explains that the people of Montag’s society have no emotions towards the people surrounding them. If someone close to you were to die, there would be no tears or mourning, only forgetting. No one would remember what you did or said, you would just be another emotionless human being that had no impact on the world. A death of someone you considered a loved one was no more than hearing about a stranger that had passed away. The people of Montag's society had dry eyes towards what was really important, caring.

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Mask of Happiness

“What do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right? Haven’t you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun? That’s all we live for isn’t it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit, our society provides plenty of these” (Bradbury 59).

To veer the people from overthrowing them, the government has provided to society an illusion of happiness through huge parlor TV’s, unlimited activities and games, and the banishment of books. The people of society do not know that they are wearing a mask of happiness and are living for absolutely nothing besides the withdrawal of their own thoughts. Books are burned every day in people’s homes because they are seen as dangerous and threatening to the government. The people do not actually have happiness, they have oblivion. This is a reoccurring theme in Fahrenheit 451 because it is very significant to the plot. Without this oblivion, more people would take action toward what was right instead of what they found entertaining.

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A Patched Book

“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us” (Bradbury 83).

Faber describes books as something used to patch the whole universe together. He means by this that books are packed with knowledge, emotions, mysteries, and exploration. All of those characteristics combine to give a rich understanding of the universe. Faber sees books as a vital part to mankind and its ability to prosper as a race. Without books, humans suffer emotionally and educationally. Books are the main part of Fahrenheit 451, showing that they have the capability to create huge controversy within a region. Without books, we would just be a mindless race trying to avoid chaos.