Fahrenheit 451 Analysis

pg 55-78

Where we Begin

We begin around page 55 with the words, "Speed up the film, Montag, quick." Beatty is delivering a lecture about society and the reasons why firefighters are burning books.

Beatty's Lecture

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Onomatopoeia and repetition adds distinction and importance.


The wording and sentence structure mimics the topic he is talking about. There is many pauses and the pace is meant to be said fast and with much punctuation and explanations
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Beatty’s focus on sports is important because it helps explain parts of the society's philosophy. A few paragraphs earlier, he asks the question, “Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?” He focuses on simplicity and the elimination of independent thought. He talks about these sports as “group spirt, fun, and YOU DON’T HAVE TO THINK…” Everything is super organised. “The mind drinks less” and the world becomes simpler.
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This whole philosophy breeds on negative emotions. Beatty focuses on one particular emotion, resentment. There is resentment of the intellectuals and the smartest individuals. Society feeds on this feeling of antagonism in order to inspire the drive to eliminate the whole idea of intelligence.


By eliminating the intellectual class, every man becomes “equal”. There is no need for harsh anger or ill will. The ironic thing is that this society uses resentment to eliminate resentment leaving only positive feelings. Thus, the whole idea of book burning isn’t based on the destruction of ideas and knowledge, it’s the destruction of negative emotion.


The government uses this process to solidify their control over their people. Anger and malice leads individuals to question their life and to the diversification of philosophical ideas. Enlightenment of the masses leads to rage and eventually, revolution. It’s a vicious and potentially dangerous cycle. Firefighters are the "custodians of the peace", the inhibitor that blocks the static charge from orbiting.


The leaders of this society recognize that whoever controls emotion controls the world. This is not a Utopian society, it is a masked tyranny.
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Fire is a bright star in a night sky, Fire cleans society. Fire creates stability. Fire is what keeps the whole civilization alive.

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Beatty himself says that there will always be odd ducks such as Clarisse. The elimination of the odd ducks preserves stability. When the unknown variables are removed from the equation, the probability of uncertainty diminishes. To “maintain” the peace, this culling is necessary.

Mildred

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Montag has this strong urge to commit acts of destruction, as he has done before, but now the epiphanies of his new revelations has forced him to reconsider his actions.


Mildred talks so nonchalantly about running over animals with his car at 95 mph. This underlines the destructive nature of the entire civilization. The people just do not think of what they are doing. These are sentient animals who are as alive as you and me. Yet they barely even contemplate that while they squish the life out of them.


This is exactly what happens with the book burning. The world doesn't even think about what they are doing. Society ignores the glaring consequences of their actions.

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Is she really happy though? Just like her husband Montag, she obtains her satisfaction through artificial pleasures. She only appears to be content with her parlor family. Later, when she evacuates the house before the fireman burns it down, she seems lost, her mind stumbling over the thoughts of her "poor family, poor family". In a way she chains herself to her "family" and to the false joy they bring. Ironically her attachment detaches herself from Montag and she loses any past feelings she had for him, eventually leading to her betrayal.

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Should Montag have known that his wife would betray him? Was Montag too naïve to trust her in a world where no one is trustworthy? Perhaps. But this seems like less of a flaw or a misjudgment than a reaction to his life's situation. He has been alone all his life. He loves his wife, but his wife doesn't love him and doesn't care for him. He refuses to see that and instead clings to the hope that she retains feelings for him and he has been clinging for years. It is a defense mechanism, a way to cope with the loveless vacuum surrounding him.

In his state of anxiety, he turns to his wife, the one person who should support him no matter what. He grasps the string of hope that his wife's detachment isn't what it seems to be. Subconsciously, he knows its not true, but he holds on nonetheless, and this sadly hastens his demise.

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Montag is starting to read for the first time. He is terrified about what will happen. He is expecting there to be words full of revelations. But what he first reads are confusing and an enigma.

His wife, on the other hand, is looking for every reason to abandon his dream and return to the lighted room. Montag doesn't give up and instead starts at the very beginning. In a way, he is restarting his entire education from the beginning.
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Ray Bradbury uses strong contrast to illustrate motivation. Mildred clearly has no interest in these books, and all she wants to do is to return to her fake pleasures. On the other hand, Montag is trying to find meaning in books. He is reading pages repeatedly to discover meaning.

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Mildred thinks only of herself and her parlor family. Her mindset is fixated only on what she can see in person. She has no imagination. Ironically enough, Montag also struggles to imagine the meaning of the passages. The burning of books has all but destroyed imagination.

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These bombers showcase Montag's state of mind. Bradbury uses figurative language to portray an ominous noise hovering in the air.

The sound of the bombers spook Montag. Montag's entire perception of the world around him is collapsing, and the bombers are a source of verification to him. All his questions about the world is spewing out in a disorganized flood of thoughts and he is struggle to cope with his enlightenment starts to panic him.

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And so increases Montag's isolation. This sentence serves to decrease the dramatic tension, but in a sad and depressing way. He is at the height of scholarly intensity and fascination, and his wife abandons him. Montag is alone and this one phrase proves it.

Faber

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The rain here is a subtle and revealing metaphor. It is raining during Beatty's lecture and during the afternoon while Montag and Mildred is reading. Then, the rain stops while Montag is on the way to Faber. This is almost a journey out of the darkness and into the illuminating beams of enlightenment.

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The numbness is his own self conscious and his happiness. After Mildred almost dies, he started to question his world. He feels that only Faber and the books and save him. He chained himself to the books. He depends on their success or he knows he is lost.

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Montag is trying to read the New Testament, but a toothpaste commercial is blaring. His agitation and frustration from all of the previous events just boils up inside of him until he explodes.

Also, the wording of the jingle and of the phrase closely mimics each other. The jingle uses the phrase "Denham's dentrifice"
repeatedly; while at the same time Montag tries to read about the lilies repeatedly. It almost feels like he is losing his grasp on the reality and is being suffocated by the fake world around him.

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The sentences here becomes incoherent, choppy, and rather hard to follow. This parallels the insanity and total befuddled nature of Montag's brain and train of thought. Bradbury uses descriptive language to add length and flow to describe the horror and rhythm of the situation.
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When Montag arrives at Faber's door, it's clear that Faber is an old man aged by time and society. Bradbury repeatedly uses the color white to describe every physical characteristic about Faber. But then, he sees the book. Suddenly, he looks younger and energetic. The books and the power of knowledge has had a sudden and very positive effect on him

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Faber looks sadly at the book and reminisce about the past. He remembers the evolution of religion into a commercial entity. He can smell the books and feels ancient sensation of paper on his fingertips. Finally, he turns on himself. He blames himself for their downfall. He was one of the guilty persons who saw what was coming, but hid behind their own veil of cowardice. Faber finishes his memories with the words, "Now, it's too late". He then closes the bible, mirroring the world closing the covers of literature's manual.
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Faber reveals the true nature of books. Its not the books themselves, its the content. Everything from books, to TV, to radio has been stripped of all meaning. Faber tells Montag to look for the deeper connections in the text and to look for the bonds between the nature of society and the adages hidden between the lines.