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  • ” In his brief authorial statement appended to the beginning of The October Country (Ballantine, 1955), an abridgement of his earlier collection Dark Carnival (1947), Bradbury feels compelled to tell his readers that “ [ This book ] will present a side of my writing that is probably unfamiliar to them, and a type of story that I rarely have done since 1948.
  • In this dystopian (dreadful and oppressive) setting, people race “jet cars” down the roads as a way of terminating stress, “parlor walls” are large screens in every home used dually for entertainment and governmental propaganda, and houses have been fireproofed, thus making the job of firemen, as they are commonly known, obsolete.
  • for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.

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    Bookmark us at Things change. To stay up to date, visit the CliffsNotes Web site and take advantage... three hundred and nine downloads two thousand, seven hundred and eighty-one Views one MB Size Report This content was uploaded by our users and we assume good faith they have the permission to share this book. If you own the copyright to this book and it is wrongfully on our website, we offer a simple DMCA procedure to remove your content from our site. Start by pressing the button below! Report copyright / DMCA form DOWNLOAD PDF Bookmark us at Things change. To stay up to date, visit the CliffsNotes Web site and take advantage of : ■ E-mail “ tip-of-the-day” newsletters for many subject categories ■ Additional references with links ■ Interactive tools for selected topics Plus: ■ The entire CliffsNotes catalog, including titles you can sample or download Look for These Other Series in the Cliffs Family CliffsQuickReview™ ISBN 0-7645-8650-5 ,! 7IA7G4-figfah!:p;K;p;t;T ACT™ bill Principles I bill Principles II Algebra I Algebra II American Government Anatomy and Physiology Astronomy Basic Math and Pre-Algebra Biochemistry I Biochemistry II Biology Calculus Chemistry Criminal Justice Developmental Psychology Differential Equations Economics Geometry Human Nutrition Linear Algebra Microbiology Organic Chemistry I Organic Chemistry II Physical Geology Physics Plant Biology Psychology SAT® I Sociology Statistics Trigonometry U.S. History I U.S. History II Writing: Grammar, Usage, Style CliffsTestPrep™ ACT Advanced Practice for the TOEFL ® w/2 cassettes CBEST ® CLAST ELM GMAT CAT ® GRE® LSAT® MAT Math Review for Standardized Tests Memory Power for Exams MSAT Police Management Examinations Police Officer Examination Police Sergeant Examination Postal Examination Praxis ™ I: PPST Praxis II : NTE ® Core Battery SAT I/PSAT SAT II Writing TASP® TOEFL CBT w/2 CDs Verbal Review for Standardized Tests Writing Proficiency Examinations You Can Pass the GED™ CliffsAP ™ AP® Biology AP Calculus AB AP Chemistry AP English Language and Composition AP English Literature and Composition AP United States History Check Out the All-New CliffsNotes Guides Setting Up a Windows ninety-eight Home Network Shopping Online Safely Taking and Sharing Digital Photographs Upgrading and Repairing Your PC Using Your First iMac ™ Using Your First PC Writing Your First Computer Program TECHNOLOGY Balancing Your Checkbook with Quicken® Booking Your Next Trip Online Buying and Selling on eBay™ Buying Your First PC Creating a Winning PowerPoint® two thousand Presentation Creating Web Pages with HTML Creating Your First Web Page Creating Your First Web Site with FrontPage® two thousand Exploring the World with Yahoo! ® Finding What You Want on the Web Getting on the Internet Getting Started in Online Investing Going Online with AOL ® Making Windows® Millennium Edition Work for You Making Windows ninety-eight Work for You PERSONAL FINANCE Budgeting & Saving Your Money Getting a Loan Getting Out of Debt Investing for the First Time Investing in 401(k) Plans Investing in IRAs Investing in Mutual Funds Investing in the Stock Market Managing Your Money Planning Your Retirement Understanding Health Insurance Understanding Life Insurance CAREERS Delivering a victorious Job Interview Finding a Job on the Web Getting a Job Writing a Great Resume Visit for a complete, updated list of titles Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one By Kristi Hiner IN THIS BOOK ■ Learn about the Life and Background of the Author ■ Preview an Introduction to the Novel ■ Explore themes, character development, and recurring images in the Critical Commentaries ■ Examine in-depth Character Analyses ■ Acquire an understanding of the novel with Critical Essays ■ Reinforce what you learn with CliffsNotes Review ■ discover additional information to further your study in the CliffsNotes Resource Center and online at HUNGRY MINDS, INC. New York, NY • Cleveland, OH • Indianapolis, IN About the Author Kristi Hiner is an English teacher at Wooster High School in Wooster, Ohio, where she also serves as the school newspaper advisor. A graduate of Ohio University, she is currently working on her Master’s degree. CliffsNotes ™ Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one Published by : Hungry Minds, Inc. nine hundred and nine Third Avenue New York, NY ten thousand and twenty-two Publisher’s Acknowledgments Editorial Project Editor: Linda Brandon Acquisitions Editor: Greg Tubach Copy Editor: Mary Fales; Billie Williams Glossary Editors: The editors and staff at Webster’s New World ™ Dictionaries Editorial Administrator: Michelle Hacker Editorial Assistant: Jennifer Young Production Indexer: York Production Services, Inc. Proofreader: York Production Services, Inc. Hungry Minds Indianapolis Production Services Note: If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. 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THE ACCURACY AND COMPLETENESS OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED HEREIN AND THE OPINIONS STATED HEREIN ARE NOT GUARANTEED OR WARRANTED TO PRODUCE ANY PARTICULAR RESULTS, AND THE ADVICE AND STRATEGIES CONTAINED HEREIN MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR EVERY INDIVIDUAL . NEITHER THE PUBLISHER NOR AUTHOR SHALL BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OF PROFIT OR ANY OTHER COMMERCIAL DAMAGES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR OTHER DAMAGES . Trademarks: Cliffs, CliffsNotes, the CliffsNotes logo, CliffsAP, CliffsComplete, CliffsTestPrep, CliffsQuickReview, CliffsNote-a-Day and all related logos and trade dress are registered trademarks or trademarks of Hungry Minds, Inc., in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. Hungry Minds, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book. is a trademark of Hungry Minds, Inc. Table of Contents Life and Background of the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . one Personal Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . two Literary Career . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Honors and Achievements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Introduction to the Novel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . six Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seven A Brief Synopsis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . eleven List of Characters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Character Map . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . sixteen Critical Commentaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventeen Part One: The Hearth and the Salamander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . eighteen Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . eighteen Commentary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . twenty-one Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Part Two: The Sieve and the Sand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . thirty Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . thirty Commentary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . thirty-two Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . thirty-seven Part Three: Burning Bright . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . forty-one Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . forty-one Commentary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . forty-four Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fifty-one Character Analyses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fifty-three Guy Montag. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fifty-four Captain Beatty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fifty-six Clarisse McClellan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fifty-six Professor Faber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fifty-seven Mildred Montag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fifty-seven Granger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fifty-eight The Mechanical Hound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fifty-eight iv CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one Critical Essays . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . sixty Major Themes in the Novel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . sixty-one Introduction to Bradbury’s Fiction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 CliffNotes Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventy-one Review Questions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventy-one Identify the Quote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventy-two Essay Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventy-four Practice Projects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventy-five CliffsNotes Resource Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventy-six Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventy-six Internet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventy-seven Film . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventy-eight Magazines, Newspapers, and Journals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventy-eight Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 How to Use This Book CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one supplements the original work, giving you background information about the author, an introduction to the novel , a graphical character map, critical commentaries, expanded glossaries, and a comprehensive index. CliffsNotes Review tests your comprehension of the original text and reinforces learning with identify the quote, essay questions, practice projects, and more. For further information on Ray Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451, check out the CliffsNotes Resource Center. CliffsNotes provides the following icons to highlight essential elements of particular interest: Reveals the underlying themes in the work . Helps you to more easily relate to or discover the depth of a character. Uncovers elements such as setting, atmosphere, mystery, passion, violence, irony, symbolism, tragedy, foreshadowing, and satire. Enables you to appreciate the nuances of words and phrases. Don’t Miss Our Web Site Discover classic literature as well as modern-day treasures by visiting the CliffsNotes Web site at You can obtain a quick download of a CliffsNotes title, purchase a title in print form, browse our catalog, or view online samples. You’ll also find interactive tools that are fun and informative, links to interesting Web sites, tips, articles, and additional resources to help you, not only for literature, but for test prep, finance, careers, computers, and Internet too. See you at ! LIFE AND BACKGROUND OF THE AUTHOR Personal Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . two Literary Career . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Honors and Achievements . . . . . . . . . . . . four two CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one Personal Background American novelist, short-story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, and poet—Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois on August 22, 1920, the third son of Leonard Spaulding Bradbury and Esther Marie Moberg Bradbury. Often said to be America’s best science fiction writer, Bradbury has also earned acclaim in the fields of poetry, drama, and screenwriting. As a young boy, Bradbury’s life revolved around magic, magicians, circuses, and other such fantasies. Whenever traveling circuses pitched their tents in Waukegan, Bradbury and his brother were always on hand. Blackstone the Magician came to town when Bradbury was eleven, and he attended every performance. Mr. Electrico, another magician of sorts, particularly impressed Bradbury with his death-defying electric chair act. In fact, this magician once gave young Bradbury such a convincing talk that Bradbury decided to become a magician—the best in the world! Bradbury’s love of fantasy was encouraged by his family. Their favorite time of the year was Halloween, which they celebrated with even more enthusiasm than they celebrated Christmas. When Bradbury was eight, his Aunt Neva helped him devise the grandest Halloween party imaginable. The Bradbury home was transformed into a haunted house with grinning pumpkins, ghost-like sheets hanging in the cellar, and raw chicken meat representing parts of a dead witch. In years to come, these details furnished material for Bradbury’s stories. In addition to Bradbury’s magician heroes, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Tarzan ranked high on his list of favorites. Bradbury read the series of books about the Emerald City of Oz, and his Aunt Neva read him the terror-filled tales of Poe. All these stories with their fantastic characters and settings were dramatic influences on Bradbury’s later life. Literary Career Bradbury began his writing career in one thousand, nine hundred and thirty-one at age eleven, using butcher paper that he had to unroll as his story progressed. The following year, he and his family moved from Illinois to Arizona, and that same year, Bradbury received a toy typewriter on which he wrote his first stories. In 1934, when he was fourteen, his family moved from Arizona to Los Angeles, where his writing career began to solidify. In 1937, he became a member of the Los Angeles Science Fiction League, whose Life and Background of the Author three help enabled him to publish four issues of his own science-fiction fan magazine, or “ fanzine,” Futuria Fantasia. Bradbury’s graduation from a Los Angeles high school in one thousand, nine hundred and thirty-eight ended his formal education, but he furthered it himself—at night in the library and by day at his typewriter. His first professional sale was for a short story entitled “Pendulum,” coauthored with Henry Hasse; it appeared in Super Science Stories, August 1941, on Bradbury’s twenty-first birthday. In 1942, Bradbury wrote “The Lake,” the story in which he discovered his distinctive writing style. By 1943, he had given up his job selling newspapers and began writing full time, contributing numerous short stories to periodicals. His short story “The Big Black and White Game” was selected for Best American Short Stories in 1945. Bradbury married Marguerite McClure in 1947, and the same year, he gathered much of his best materials and published them as Dark Carnival, his first short story collection. From then on, Bradbury’s fantasy works were published in numerous magazines throughout the country. Bradbury says that he learned to write by recalling his own experiences. Many of his early stories are based, unsurprisingly, on his childhood experiences in Illinois. For example, “The Jar” (Weird Tales, 1944) is based on the first time that Bradbury saw a pickled embryo, which was displayed in a sideshow at one of the carnivals visiting his hometown. “Homecoming” (Mademoiselle, 1946) was inspired by his relatives’ marvelous Halloween parties, and “Uncle Einar” (Dark Carnival, 1947), a story about a man with green wings, is based loosely on one of Bradbury’s uncles. In 1947, after Dark Carnival (a collection of weird and macabre stories) was published, Bradbury turned to another kind of writing— philosophical science fiction. One work in particular, The Martian Chronicles (1950), grew out of Bradbury’s own personal philosophy and his concern for the future of humankind. The Martian Chronicles reflects some of the prevailing anxieties of America in the early atomic age of the one thousand, nine hundred and fifty ’s: the fear of nuclear war, the longing for a simpler life, reactions against racism and censorship, and the fear of foreign political powers. Two other highly personal works, Dandelion Wine (1957) and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), also exemplify his belief that writing should come from a writer’s own philosophy and from his or her own experiences. These novels are set in fictitious Green Town—which four CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one is, in reality, Bradbury’s hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. The ravine described in both books is located on Yeoman Creek, and the library, which is an important setting in Something Wicked This Way Comes, was once located on Waukegan’s Sheridan Road. Today, Bradbury lives in Los Angeles, is a Sunday painter, and collects Mexican artifacts. He is still actively writing and lecturing most often on college campuses. He has four grown daughters and several grandchildren. Among Bradbury’s latest works are fate Is a Lonely Business (1985), The April Witch (1987), Death Has Lost Its Charm (1987), The Toynbee Convector (1988), Graveyard for Lunatics (1990), Folon’s Folons (1990), Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity (1991), A Chrestomathy of Ray Bradbury: A Dramatic Selection (1991), Yestermorrow: Obvious Answers to Impossible Futures (1991), Green Shadows, White Whale (1992), The Stars (1993), Quicker Than The Eye (1996), Driving Blind (1997), Dogs Think That Every Day Is Christmas (1997), and With Cat for Comforter (1997). Honors and Achievements In addition to Bradbury’s many books and his hundreds of short stories, works such as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, and Something Wicked This Way Comes have been made into major motion pictures. In addition, Bradbury has written for television, radio, and the theater. Ray Bradbury’s work was included in the Best American Short Story collections (1946, 1948, and 1952). He was awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award in 1954, the AviationSpace Writer’s Association Award for best space article in an American Magazine in 1967, the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, and the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America. His animated film about the history of flight, Icarus Montgolfier Wright, was nominated for an academy award, and his teleplay of The Halloween Tree won an Emmy. Since 1985, he adapted forty-two of his short stories for The Ray Bradbury Television Theater on USA Cable. Ray Bradbury’s writing has been honored in many ways, but perhaps the most unusual way was when an Apollo astronaut named the Dandelion Crater on the Moon after Bradbury’s novel, Dandelion Wine. Outside of his literary achievements, Ray Bradbury was the idea consultant and wrote the basic scenario for the United States Pavilion at Life and Background of the Author five the one thousand, nine hundred and sixty-four New York World’s Fair. He conceived the metaphors for Spaceship Earth, EPCOT, Disney World, and he contributed to the conception of the Orbitron space ride at Disneyland Paris, France. He was a creative consultant for the Jon Jerde Partnership, the architectural firm that blueprinted the Glendale Galleria, The Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles, and Horton Plaza in San Diego. In a field that thrives on the fantastic and the marvelous, Ray Bradbury’s best stories celebrate the everyday; in a field preoccupied with the future, Bradbury’s vision is firmly rooted in the past. This particular style is evident from the influence of his childhood on his writing (Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes), as well as from growing up in Illinois. Widely regarded as the most important figure in the development of science fiction as a literary genre, Ray Bradbury’s work evokes the themes of racism, censorship, technology, nuclear war, humanistic values, and the importance of imagination. Clearly, Bradbury kept his promise to Mr. Electrico. He did become a magician, using his pen as a magic wand to transport his readers into wondrous situations. Bradbury himself attests to this fact in an article appearing in the one thousand, nine hundred and fifty-two Ray Bradbury Review. He says that he simply transferred his “ methods of magic from the stage to a sheet of Eaton’s Bond paper—for there is something of the magician in every writer, flourishing his effects and making his miracles. ” INTRODUCTION TO THE NOVEL Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seven A Brief Synopsis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . eleven List of Characters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Character Map . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Introduction to the Novel seven Introduction Critics find Bradbury’s most interesting years the post–World War II years, 1947-57, a period that roughly corresponds to a time when science fiction authors began to approach their subject matter seriously and were creating characters who had psychological complexity and ambiguity. During this decade, Bradbury produced some of his most vital works: Dark Carnival (Arkham House, 1947); the amazing Martian Chronicles (Doubleday, 1950), his first and perhaps finest science fiction work; the short story collections The Illustrated Man (Doubleday, 1951) and The Golden Apples of the Sun (Doubleday, 1953); and Dandelion Wine (Doubleday, 1957), a short novel that has attained the status of being a minor American classic. During this period, Bradbury also produced “The Fireman, ” a short story that appeared in the second issue of Galaxy Science Fiction (February 1951) and was expanded into Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one (October 1953), his best and best-known novel . Initially published by Ballantine with two other stories, “The Playground” and “ And the Rock Cried Out,” Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one was not published separately until the Ballantine paperback release in April 1960. Major Theme Interestingly, the impetus for the characters and the situation of Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one date earlier than “ The Fireman. ” They first appeared during the years immediately following World War II, as Bradbury reveals in his introduction to Pillar of Fire and Other Plays (Bantam, 1975): This story [“ Pillar of Fire,” Planet Stories, Summer 1948], this character . . . I see now were rehearsals for my later novel and film Fahrenheit 451. If Montag is a burner of books who wakens to reading and becomes obsessed with saving mind-as-printed-upon-matter, then Lantry [protagonist of “ Pillar of Fire” ] is the books themselves, he is the thing to be saved. In an ideal world, he and Montag would have met, set up shop, and lived happily ever after: library and saver of libraries, book and reader, idea and flesh to preserve the idea. By Bradbury’s own admission, the thematic obsession that explicitly emerges in Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one is the burning of books, the destruction of mind-as-printed-upon-matter. And although Bradbury never uses eight CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one the word “ censorship” in the novel, one should be aware that he is deeply concerned with censorship. Book burning is a hyperbolic phrase that describes the suppression of writing, but the real issue of the novel is censorship. If “ Pillar of Fire” is read sensitively, one finds that not all books are in danger in the future dystopia (an imaginary world where people lead dehumanized, fearful lives), but particular kinds, or genres, of books are at risk. This theme, of course, is not precisely true of Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one in which all books that are burned by the “firemen” are in danger. This novel may be understood as a kind of hyperbolic extension of the tensions of the earlier story. Bradbury’s observation about “ Pillar of Fire” (1948) begs the questions: What are the social and/or economic forces that caused such a thematic obsession to emerge in Bradbury’s work from the period 1948 -53? Why are only books of imagination, fantasy, and the macabre and occult threatened in “Pillar of Fire”? Works by fantasists are also threatened in Bradbury ’s story “Usher II” (1950), which appears in The Martian Chronicles (1950). “ Pillar of Fire” thus becomes a rehearsal for the themes of “Usher II,” and the latter story appears to inhabit the same imaginative realm as does “ The Firemen” published in 1951. (“The Firemen” was written during the same period as “Usher II” and is copyrighted 1950.) Indeed, the character of William Lantry in “Pillar of Fire” and the character of William Stendahl in “Usher II” are quite similar, as are the authors whose books are threatened—Poe, Bierce, and other American fantasists. Moreover, a Burning crowd is referred to in “Usher II, ” one that eventually burns Stendahl’s beloved library of imaginative literature, and the Burning Crew is obviously a synonym for the firemen in Fahrenheit 451. The question may be asked in another way: Why is Bradbury sensitive to the popular condemnation of fantasy literature? By extension, this question becomes an issue of the literary merit of works of popular literature. Why is Bradbury particularly sensitive to the critical reception of fantasy literature during the post–World War II period? The question becomes even more problematic when one considers that Bradbury himself was publishing science fiction and fantasy in legitimate magazines, or slicks, such as Colliers and the Saturday Evening Post, not in the pulps, or disreputable magazines. As Peter Nicholls observes, “[Bradbury’s] career remains the biggest breakthrough into lush markets made by any genre of writer” (1985). Introduction to the Novel nine Genre Science Fiction Far from traditional literary discussion, the questions posed may offer another way of reading the novel—as genre science fiction. After all, Bradbury’s obsessions with the suppression of fantasy literature may express, at the psychological level, the wrestling with the validity of his own career as a fantasist. Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one represents Bradbury’s first published novel, written at a time when—according to Brian W. Aldiss (Schocken, 1974)—“science fiction was still a minority cult, little known to any but its devotees. ” In his brief authorial statement appended to the beginning of The October Country (Ballantine, 1955), an abridgement of his earlier collection Dark Carnival (1947), Bradbury feels compelled to tell his readers that “ [ This book ] will present a side of my writing that is probably unfamiliar to them, and a type of story that I rarely have done since 1948. ” By one thousand, nine hundred and fifty-five (during a time when his earliest work was out-of-print), Bradbury was aware of his (perhaps undeserved) reputation as a science fiction writer and was attempting to present to his readership an aspect of his work with which they were unfamiliar. Unsurprisingly, his next published book after The October Country, Dandelion Wine (Doubleday, 1957), is not science fiction, but a tour de force of juvenalia—specifically, a celebration of adolescence and the life-affirming value of the imagination. With the exception of A Medicine for Melancholy (Doubleday, 1959), a collection of short stories dominated by science fiction selections, Bradbury has rarely returned to science fiction. (Collections such as R is for Rocket [1962] and S is for Space [1966 ] only recycle earlier stories.) But another aspect of Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one is equally interesting: The suppression and condemnation of imaginative literature (viewed earlier as synecdoche for popular literature) represent the development of an increasingly oppressive political organization that wishes to deny originality and idiosyncrasy. Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one uses the science fiction motif of dystopia—a totalitarian, highly centralized, and, therefore, oppressive social organization that sacrifices individual expression for the sake of efficiency and social harmony, all of which are achieved through technocratic means. The reader may examine the episodes of Dandelion Wine—the book most contiguous with Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one (disregarding The October Country)—originally published as “ The Happiness Machine” and “The Trolley” (Good Housekeeping, Vol. one hundred and forty-one No. 1, July 1955.). The former story views technology as unable to provide for— and as even opposed to—human happiness; the latter story views technological innovation as solely efficient, as oppressive, and, perhaps, as ten CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one even protofascist. In fact, one may find that Dandelion Wine, published after Bradbury became labeled as a formidable science fiction writer, views technology and technological innovation as inconsequential in solving basic human problems. This view is apparent in Fahrenheit 451. For example, note the marital problems between Montag and his wife— even though their home is full of technological contrivances specifically designed for domestic bliss—or explore the motivation for the development of the Mechanical Hound as a vehicle of social control via terrorist means. Historical Influences Despite all the rich possibilities of exploration in Fahrenheit 451, the issue of book burning, or censorship, remains most central to the novel and is the most difficult issue with which to grapple. In essence, book burning is synonymous with irrationality in the twentieth century. The genesis of Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one was presumably contagious with the period of racist anti-intellectualism during the late 1930s, and book burning certainly became a synonym for anti-intellectualism in science fiction of the 1950s—as it was in Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz (Lippincott, 1959). Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one emerged during a period of extreme interest in what Brian W. Aldiss calls “ an authoritarian society” that roughly corresponds to the years 1945-1953, as revealed in George Orwell’s Animal grassland (1945) and one thousand, nine hundred and eighty-four (1948); B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two (1948); Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano (1952); Evelyn Waugh’s Love Among the Ruins (1953); and Frederick Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants (1953). Moreover, the postwar period also produced several novels and films concerned with the possibilities of nuclear holocaust, which hovers over Montag’s world throughout the novel. The novel also appears during the era known as the McCarthy period, the postwar political climate characterized by xenophobia, blacklisting, and censorship. In June 1949, for example, Representative John S. Wood asked some seventy colleges to submit their textbooks for examination and approval by the Un-American Activities Committee. Bradbury himself (Nation, May 2, 1953), in an article on science fiction as social criticism, suggested that “ when the wind is right , a faint odor of kerosene is exhaled from Senator McCarthy. ” Many of the issues explored in the novel cannot be separated from the historical period in which they appeared. This assertion is not to say, however, that they are no longer relevant or timely issues. Indeed, the novel evidently held a Introduction to the Novel eleven particular fascination for readers in the 1980s when censorship in schools and libraries resurged. Although the novel initially went through six printings in its first twelve years (1953-1965), it went through twenty printings in the next five years (1966-1971) and has been in print since its initial publication. As stated earlier, Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one is Bradbury’s best-known novel, which, incidentally, happens to be science fiction. The novel need not, nor should it be, read only by science fiction or fantasy enthusiasts. Fahrenheit 451 is, among other things, a genuine cultural document of the early 1950s as well as a book of great imagination— regardless of its genre. A Brief Synopsis Set in the twenty-fourth century, Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one introduces a new world in which control of the masses by the media, overpopulation, and censorship has taken over the general population. The individual is not accepted and the intellectual is considered an outlaw. Television has replaced the common perception of family. The fireman is now seen as a flamethrower , a destroyer of books rather than an insurance against fire. Books are considered evil because they make people question and think. The people live in a world with no reminders of history or appreciation of the past ; the population receives the present from television. Ray Bradbury introduces this new world through the character Guy Montag, the protagonist, during a short time in his life. The story begins with an inciting incident in which Montag meets Clarisse McClellan. Montag, a fireman who destroys books for a living, is walking home from work one day when the young Clarisse approaches him and introduces herself. Clarisse is the antithesis of anyone Montag has ever met. She is young, pretty, and energetic, but more importantly, she converses with him about things that he has never considered. Her inquisitive nature fascinates him because she ponders things such as happiness, love, and, more importantly, the contents of the books that he burns. At first, Montag tries to ignore her questions, but on the rest of his walk home, he cannot get the young girl out of his mind. Upon entering his home, however, her image is quickly erased. Montag enters his bedroom to find an empty bottle of sleeping pills laying on the floor next to his bed. He discovers that his wife Mildred (Millie), whether twelve CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one intentionally or unintentionally, has overdosed on the pills. He calls the emergency squad, and the strangers come with their machine to save his wife. The next morning, Montag attempts to discuss what happened the night before, but his wife is uninterested in any type of discussion. She avoids Montag’s questions and instead focuses on the new script she has received for an interactive television program. Montag, though frustrated and confused about what happened the previous night, heads off to work. On his way to work, Montag again encounters Clarisse and is left pondering things like the taste of rain and what dandelions represent. He enters the fire station and immediately encounters the Mechanical Hound, who actually growls at him. Because of this brief encounter, Montag realizes that the Hound doesn ’t like him, a point that he quickly points out to his fellow fireman, Captain Beatty. Several days pass since Montag ’s last meeting with Clarisse. During one of his final conversations with Clarisse, Montag learns that she fears the violence in her peers. She points out that their world used to be an entirely different world, one where pictures showed actual people and people talked about important things. One day at the fire station, the firemen receive a call that an old woman has stashed books in her house. The firemen race to her home and begin destroying the contraband. Montag urges the woman to leave the house because the entire home will be destroyed, but she refuses to leave her precious books. The home, along with the old woman and her books, is set aflame, but not before Montag steals one of the books. Later the same night, Montag tries to discuss the day with Millie, but she is not interested in what he has to say. During their conversation, Montag discovers from Millie that Clarisse was killed in an automobile accident. Montag decides to call in sick to work the next day, but he is surprised by a visit from Beatty. Somehow, Beatty knows that Montag is keeping a book, and he is interested in reading it. Beatty converses at great length with Montag and tells him that every fireman gets the itch to read a book at some point in his career. Beatty also tells Montag that even though he may keep the book for 24 hours, he must return to work, with book in hand, so the book can be properly destroyed. Introduction to the Novel 13 After this meeting, Montag shows Millie that he has been hiding, not just one book, but a cache of books in the house for some time. He then convinces Millie to sit and read the books with him. While reading, Montag attempts to converse with Millie about the content of the books but finds that she cannot comprehend, nor does she want to comprehend, what they are reading. At this point, Montag remembers an old, retired English professor, Faber, whom he had met in a park. Montag decides to visit Faber to gain more understanding about books and his recurrent thoughts. Upon reaching Faber’s house, Montag is first greeted by the old man with fear. Faber worries that Montag has come to burn his books and home, but he is quickly pacified when he sees Montag ’s Bible and hears that Montag wants to talk with him. During their conversation, Faber agrees to teach Montag, and he gives Montag a seashell radio so they can communicate with one another. Montag returns home to find Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles, two of Millie’s friends, at his home. Feeling especially courageous, Montag decides to enlighten them by reading “Dover Beach,” but instead, he causes problems for himself because he scares the women. They flee the house in tears, and Millie is angry with him for causing the scene. With Faber still speaking in his ear, Montag returns to work and gives Beatty a book, which is promptly incinerated. After a lengthy discussion with Beatty, an alarm comes into the station, and the firemen rush to destroy the next house. When the firemen stop in front of the unfortunate house, Montag is surprised to see his own home. Promptly, Beatty orders Montag to destroy his home and places him under arrest. Montag takes a perverse pleasure in destroying the home, especially the television, and in the following moments, he also kills Beatty with his flamethrower. The Mechanical Hound attacks Montag before he can escape, but he destroys it with fire before the Hound can destroy him . Montag runs to Faber ’s home for protection but quickly realizes that he is endangering Faber. Thus, he stops at the home of Black, a fellow fireman, and hides the books inside the house to incriminate him. Montag then reaches Faber’s home, and Faber tells him to escape down the river because another Mechanical Hound is on the search for him. fourteen CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one After helping Faber rid all trace of him, Montag races toward the river in hopes of escaping the search. By the time the Mechanical Hound reaches the river, Montag’s trail is lost. He safely floats down the river toward a group of social outcasts and criminals like himself. Montag leaves the river and immediately finds the group that Faber told him about. He meets the unacknowledged leader of the group, Granger, who welcomes Montag to join them. Although he thought that the search was called off, Montag finds out that it was just rerouted. He watches on television as an innocent man, strolling along the city streets, is purposefully identified as Montag and is killed for the entire television audience to see. The group decides to move on from their current site, and while they are walking, Granger explains the purpose of the outlaw group: They are preserving books by memorizing their contents and then destroying them. Books can not be forgotten, because each person in the group is a living version of them. Montag becomes the Book of Ecclesiastes from the Bible. As the men continue in their journey, Montag and Granger watch as bombs fall upon the city and destroy everything in their path. The final war has begun. Although the men are escaping the city, they decide, without discussion, to return to the city with Montag in the lead. List of Characters Guy Montag The protagonist, an unhappy, complacent man who is thirty years old. He has been a fireman for ten years. He meets Clarisse and finds that her outlook on life is refreshing. Mildred Montag (Millie) Guy’s self-destructive wife, also thirty years old, who reveals to Montag the alienated existence of citizens in his society. She has never wanted children and considers her family to be television characters. Clarisse McClellan Montag ’s new neighbor, seventeen years old, who calls herself crazy and enjoys conversations. Her recalcitrance and nonconformity allow Montag to discover how jaded his view of life has become. Introduction to the Novel 15 Captain Beatty The antagonist of the book and Montag’s superior, the Fire Captain, who functions as the apologist for the dystopian culture in which Montag lives. He is well read and uses his knowledge of books as a weapon to fight curiosity about them. Mechanical Hound A machine, similar to a trained killer dog that the firefighters use to track down and capture criminals. The Hound disables and kills offenders with a morphine or procaine needle. Unidentified Woman A woman from the ancient part of the city. Her martyrdom reveals to Montag the power of civil disobedience, books, and ideas. Faber An elderly man, a retired English professor who is an underground, though ineffectual, scholar. He becomes Montag’s ally and mentor. Granger An ex-writer who is the unacknowledged leader of the social outcasts and criminals. He unites the group to keep the content of books safe. Stoneman and Black Montag’s fellow firemen who are conformists, and conservatives. Together with Beatty, they form Montag’s familiar working colleagues. Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles Millie’s friends who do not question the social structure. Their husbands are called away to war. They also view the television characters as their families and become agitated when Montag reads to them. Fred Clement, Dr. Simmons, Professor West, Reverend Padover, and Harris in Youngstown Social outcasts and criminals who are led by Granger. They choose and memorize a book to ensure that the story is never forgotten. 16 CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one Character Map mom = Father Grandfather Disappear after Clarisse’s death Fireman Mother = Father Clarisse McClellan Inspiration to Montag by questioning society and speaking to him as an individual ; is killed by a speeding car Fireman Guy Montag Captain Beatty firemen Antagonist, Fire Captain, killed by Montag married to mentor employed by mentor Mildred (Millie) Rescuer of books (Plato’s Republic), befriends Montag and welcomes him to the group of outcasts and criminals Mechanical Hound Machine that attacks criminals; first one is destroyed by Montag, but another is called in to search for Montag Harris in Youngstown other escapees, memorize books married to Mrs. Black orders Black Married to 3rd husband, is moved by Montag’s reading of book Attempts suicide, probably killed in bomb blast Granger Works with and is attacked by Montag; Montag plants books in his home friends with Protagonist, fireman Stoneman Works with and is attacked by Montag Martyr to Montag when she chooses to burn with her collection of books friends with Retired English professor, champion of books, becomes ally to Montag Old Unidentified Woman Mrs . Clara Phelps befriends Faber reveals power of books Uncle Disappears after Clarisse’s death (Book of Ecclesiastes) Reverend Padover Mrs. Ann Bowles Widow who has had three husbands, has two children Fred Clement Dr. Simmons (Marcus Aurelius) Professor West CRITICAL COMMENTARIES The Hearth and the Salamander . . . . . . eighteen Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . eighteen Commentary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . twenty-one Glossary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . twenty-six The Sieve and the Sand . . . . . . . . . . . . . thirty Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . thirty Commentary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . thirty-two Glossary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . thirty-seven Burning Bright. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . forty-one Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . forty-one Commentary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . forty-four Glossary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . fifty-one eighteen CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one Part One The Hearth and the Salamander Summary In the first part of Fahrenheit 451, the character Guy Montag, a thirty-year-old fireman in the twenty-fourth century (remember that the novel was written in the early 1950s) is introduced. In this dystopian (dreadful and oppressive) setting, people race “jet cars” down the roads as a way of terminating stress, “parlor walls” are large screens in every home used dually for entertainment and governmental propaganda, and houses have been fireproofed, thus making the job of firemen, as they are commonly known, obsolete. However, firemen have been given a new occupation; they are burners of books and the official censors of the state. As a fireman, Guy Montag is responsible for destroying not only the books he finds, but also the homes in which he finds them. Books are not to be read; they are to be destroyed without question. For Montag, “ It was a pleasure to burn. ” The state mandated that all books must burn. Therefore, Montag, along with the other firemen, burn the books to show conformity. Without ideas, everyone conforms, and as a result, everyone should be happy. When books and new ideas are available to people, conflict and unhappiness occur. At first, Montag believes that he is happy. When he views himself in the firehouse mirror after a night of burning, he grins “ the fierce grin of all men singed and driven back by flame. ” However, the reader quickly notices that everything isn’t as Montag wants it to be. When Montag meets Clarisse McClellan, his new vivacious teenage neighbor, he begins to question whether he really is happy. Clarisse gives Montag enlightenment; she questions him not only about his own personal happiness but also about his occupation and about the fact that he knows little truth about history. At the same time, she also gives the reader the opportunity to see that the government has dramatically changed what its citizens perceive as their history. For example, Montag never knew that firemen used to fight actual fires or that billboards used to be only twenty feet long. Nor did Montag know that people could actually talk to one another; the governmental use of Critical Commentaries: The Hearth and the Salamander nineteen parlor walls has eliminated the need for casual conversation. Clarisse arouses Montag’s curiosity and begins to help him discover that real happiness has been missing from his life for quite some time. After Montag’s encounter with Clarisse, he returns home to find his wife Mildred Montag (Millie) unconscious; she is lying on the bed with her Seashell Radios in her ears and has overdosed on tranquilizers and sleeping pills. Two impersonal technicians, who bring machines to pump her stomach and provide a total transfusion, save Millie, but she could possibly overdose again and never even know it—or so it may seem. The matter of the overdose—whether an attempted suicide or a result of sheer mindlessness—is never settled. Although Montag wishes to discuss the matter of the overdose, Millie does not, and their inability to agree on even this matter suggests the profound estrangement that exists between them. Even though Montag and Millie have been married for years, Montag realizes, after the overdose incident, that he doesn’t really know much about his wife at all. He can ’t remember when or where he first met her. In fact, all that he does know about his wife is that she is interested only in her “ family”—the illusory images on her three-wall TV — and the fact that she drives their car with high-speed abandon. He realizes that their life together is meaningless and purposeless. They don’t love each other; in fact, they probably don’t love anything, except perhaps burning (Montag) and living secondhand through an imaginary family (Millie). When Montag returns to work the next day, he touches the Mechanical Hound and hears a growl. The Mechanical Hound is best described as a device of terror, a machine that is perversely similar to a trained killer dog but has been improved by refined technology, which allows it to inexorably track down and capture criminals by stunning them with a tranquilizer. Montag fears that the dog can sense his growing unhappiness. He also fears that the Hound somehow knows that he’s confiscated some books during one of his raids. The fire chief, Captain Beatty also senses Montag ’s unhappiness. Upon entering the upper level of the firehouse, Montag questions whether the Mechanical Hound can think. Beatty, who functions as the apologist of the dystopia, points out that the Hound “ doesn’t think anything we don’t want it to think. ” Instantly, Beatty is suspicious of this sudden curiosity in Montag and questions whether Montag feels guilty about something. 20 CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one After several more days of encountering Clarisse and working at the firehouse, Montag experiences two things that make him realize that he must convert his life. The first incident is one in which he is called to an unidentified woman ’s house to destroy her books. Her neighbor discovered her cache of books, so they must be burned. The woman stubbornly refuses to leave her home; instead, she chooses to burn with her books. The second incident, which occurs later the same evening, is when Millie tells Montag that the McClellans have moved away because Clarisse died in an automobile accident—she was “ run over by a car. ” If the Hound and Captain Beatty are a gauge of Montag’s growing “disease” (Bradbury’s word), the news of Clarisse’s death, coupled with a fire call to the unidentified woman ’s house, brings about his conversion. Montag decides to talk with Millie about his dissatisfaction with his job as a fireman and about the intrinsic values that a person can obtain from books. Suddenly, he sees that Millie is incapable of understanding what he means. All she knows is that books are unlawful and that anyone who breaks the law must be punished. Fearing for her own safety, Millie declares that she is innocent of any wrongdoing, and she says that Montag must leave her alone. After this confrontation with Millie, Montag entertains the idea of quitting his job, but instead, he decides to feign illness and goes to bed. When Captain Beatty, who is already suspicious of Montag’s recent behavior, finds that Montag hasn’t come to work, he makes a sick call to Montag’s home. Beatty gives Montag a pep talk, explaining to him that every fireman sooner or later goes through a period of intellectual curiosity and steals a book. (Beatty seems to know, miraculously, that Montag stole a book—or books.) Beatty emphatically stresses that books contain nothing believable. He attempts to convince Montag that they are merely stories—fictitious lies—about nonexistent people. He tells Montag that because each person is angered by at least some kind of literature, the simplest solution is to get rid of all books. Ridding the world of controversy puts an end to dispute and allows people to “ stay happy all the time . ” Beatty even supports a sort of perverse democratic ideal: Ridding the world of all controversial books and ideas makes all men equal—each man is the image of other men. He concludes his lecture by assuring Montag that the book-burning profession is an honorable one and instructs Montag to return to work that evening. Immediately following Beatty’s visit, Montag confesses to Mildred that, although he can’t explain why, he has stolen, not just one book, but a small library of books for himself during the past year (the total Critical Commentaries: The Hearth and the Salamander 21 is nearly twenty books, one of which is a Bible). He then begins to reveal his library, which he’s hidden in the air-conditioning system. When Millie sees Montag’s cache of books, she panics. Montag tries to convince her that their lives are already in such a state of disrepair that an investigation of books may be beneficial. Millie is unconvinced. What neither of them know is that the Mechanical Hound (probably sent by Captain Beatty) is already on Montag’s trail, seemingly knowing Montag ’s mind better than Montag himself. Commentary Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one is currently Bradbury’s most famous written work of social criticism. It deals with serious problems of control of the masses by the media, the banning of books, and the suppression of the mind (with censorship). The novel examines a few pivotal days of a man’s life, a man who is a burner of books and, therefore, an instrument of suppression. This man (Montag) lives in a world where the past has been destroyed by kerosene-spewing hoses and government brainwashing methods. In a few short days, this man is transformed from a narrow-minded and prejudiced conformist into a dynamic individual committed to social change and to a life of saving books rather than destroying them. Before you begin the novel, note the significance of the title, four hundred and fifty-one degrees Fahrenheit, “the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns. ” Also note the epigram by Juan Ramon Jimenez: “If they give you ruled paper, write the other way. ” Jimenez (1881–1958) was a Spanish poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in one thousand, nine hundred and fifty-six and was largely responsible for introducing Modernism into Spanish poetry. The implications of both concepts—one, a simple fact, and the other, a challenge to authority—gain immense significance by the conclusion of the book. In the first part of Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury uses machine imagery to construct the setting and environment of the book. He introduces Guy Montag, a pyromaniac who took “ special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. ” He burns books that he hasn ’t read or even questioned in order to ensure conformity and happiness. Montag has a smile permanently etched on his face; he does not think of the present, the past, or the future. According to his government ’s views, the only emotion Montag should feel, besides destructive fury, is happiness. He views himself in the mirror after a 22 CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one night of burning and finds himself grinning, and he thinks that all firemen must look like white men masquerading as minstrels, grinning behind their “burnt-corked” masks. Later, as Montag goes to sleep, he realizes that his smile still grips his face muscles, even in the dark. The language —“ fiery smile still gripped by his face muscles”—suggests that his smile is artificial and forced. Soon he will understand that this small bit of truth is an immense truth for himself. At present, Montag seems to enjoy his job as a fireman. He is a “ smiling fireman. ” However, this smile and the later realization of its artificiality foreshadow Montag’s eventual dissatisfaction not only with his job but also with his life. Montag smiles, but he is not happy. The smile, just like his “burnt-corked” face, is a mask. You discover almost immediately (when Montag meets Clarisse McClellan) that he is not happy. By comparing and contrasting the two characters, you can see that Bradbury portrays Clarisse as spontaneous and naturally curious; Montag is insincere and jaded. Clarisse has no rigid daily schedule: Montag is a creature of habit. She speaks to him of the beauties of life, the man in the moon, the early morning dew, and the enjoyment she receives from smelling and looking at things. Montag, however, has never concerned himself with such “insignificant” matters. Clarisse lives with her mother, father, and uncle; Montag has no family other than his wife, and as you soon discover, his home life is unhappy. Clarisse accepts Montag for what he is ; Montag finds Clarisse’s peculiarities (that is, her individuality) slightly annoying. “ You think too many things,” he tells her. Despite all these differences, the two are attracted to one another. Clarisse’s vivacity is infectious, and Montag finds her unusual perspectives about life intriguing. Indeed, she is partly responsible for Montag’s change in attitude. She makes Montag think of things that he has never thought of before, and she forces him to consider ideas that he has never contemplated. Moreover, Montag seems to find something in Clarisse that is a long-repressed part of himself: “ How like a mirror, too, her face. Impossible; for how many people did you know who refracted your own light to you ? ” At the very least, Clarisse awakens in Montag a love and desire to enjoy the simple and innocent things in life. She speaks to him about her delight in letting the rain fall upon her face and into her mouth. Critical Commentaries: The Hearth and the Salamander twenty-three Later, Montag, too, turns his head upward into the early November rain in order to catch a mouthful of the cool liquid. In effect, Clarisse, in a very few meetings, exerts a powerful influence on Montag, and he is never able to find happiness in his former life again. Yet, if the water imagery of this early scene implies rebirth or regeneration, this imagery is also associated with the artificiality of the peoples ’ lives in the futuristic dystopia of Fahrenheit 451. Each night before she goes to bed, Mildred places small, Seashell Radios into her ears, and the music whisks her away from the dreariness of her everyday reality. As Montag lies in bed, the room seems empty because the waves of sound “ came in and bore her [Mildred] off on their great tides of sound, floating her, wide-eyed, toward morning. ” However, the music that Mildred feels is life-giving actually robs her of the knowledge and meaning of life. She has abandoned reality through her use of these tiny technological wonders that instill mindlessness. The Seashell Radios serve as an escape for Millie because they help her avoid thoughts. Although she would never—or could never—admit it, Millie Montag isn’t happy either. Her need for the Seashell Radios in order to sleep is insignificant when measured against her addiction to tranquilizers and sleeping pills. When Millie overdoses on sleeping pills (which Bradbury never fully explains as accidental or suicidal), she is saved by a machine and two machinelike men who don’t care whether she lives or dies. This machine, which pumps out a person’s stomach and replaces blood with a fresh supply, is used to foil up to ten unexplainable suicide attempts a night—a machine that is very telling of the social climate. Montag comes to realize that their inability to discuss the suicide attempt suggests the profound estrangement that exists between them. He discovers that their marriage is in shambles. Neither he nor Millie can remember anything about their past together, and Millie is more interested in her three-wall television family. The TV is another means that Mildred uses to escape reality (and, perhaps, her unhappiness with life and with Montag). She neglects Montag and lavishes her attention instead upon her television relatives. The television family that never says or does anything significant, the high-speed abandon with which she drives their car, and even the overdose of sleeping pills are all indicators for Montag that their life together is meaningless. For Montag, these discoveries are difficult to express; he is only dimly cognizant of his unhappiness—and Millie’s—when he has the first twenty-four CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one incident with the Mechanical Hound. In some sense, the Hound’s distrust of Montag—its growl—is a barometer of Montag’s growing unhappiness. Captain Beatty intuitively senses Montag’s growing discontent with his life and job. Beatty is an intelligent but ultimately cynical man. He is, paradoxically, well-read and is even willing to allow Montag to have some slight curiosity about what the books contain. However, Beatty, as a defender of the state (one who has compromised his morality for social stability), believes that all intellectual curiosity and hunger for knowledge must be quelled for the good of the state—for conformity. He even allows for the perversion of history as it appears in Firemen of America: “Established, 1790, to burn English-influenced books in the Colonies. First Fireman: Benjamin Franklin . . . ” Beatty can tolerate curiosity about books as long as it doesn ’t affect one’s actions . When the curiosity for books begins to affect an individual ’s conduct and a person ’s ability to conform—as it does Montag ’s—the curiosity must be severely punished. When Montag is called to an unidentified woman ’s house “ in the ancient part of the city,” he is amazed to find that the woman will not abandon her home or her books. The woman is clearly a martyr, and her martyrdom profoundly affects Montag. Before she is burned, the woman makes a strange yet significant statement: “ 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. ” Nicholas Ridley, the Bishop of London in the sixteenth century, was an early martyr for the Protestant faith. He was convicted of heresy and sentenced to burn at the stake with a fellow heretic, Hugh Latimer. Latimer’s words to Ridley are the ones that the unidentified woman alludes to before she is set aflame. (Note that a couple visual metaphors for knowledge were traditionally of a woman, sometimes bathed in bright light or holding a burning torch.) Ironically, the woman’s words are prophetic; through her own death by fire, Montag’s discontent drives him to an investigation of what books really are, what they contain, and what fulfillment they offer. Montag is unable to understand the change that is taking place within him . With a sickening awareness, he realizes that “ [a]lways at night the alarm comes . Never by day! Is it because fire is prettier by night? More spectacle, a better show? ” He questions why this particular fire call was such a difficult one to make, and he wonders why his hands seem like separate entities, hiding one of the woman ’s books under his coat. Her stubborn dignity compels him to discover for himself what is in books. Critical Commentaries: The Hearth and the Salamander 25 If Clarisse renews his interest in the sheer excitement of life and Mildred reveals to him the unhappiness of an individual ’s existence in his society, the martyred woman represents for Montag the power of ideas and, hence, the power of books that his society struggles to suppress. When Mildred tells Montag that the McClellans moved away because Clarisse died in an automobile accident, Montag’s dissatisfaction with his wife, his marriage, his job, and his life intensifies. As he becomes more aware of his unhappiness, he feels even more forced to smile the fraudulent, tight-mouthed smile that he has been wearing. He also realizes that his smile is beginning to fade. When Montag first entertains the idea of quitting his job for awhile because Millie offers him no sympathetic understanding, he feigns illness and goes to bed. (In all fairness, however, Montag feels sick because he burned the woman alive the night before. His sickness is, so to speak, his conscience weighing upon him.) Captain Beatty, as noted earlier, has been suspicious of Montag’s recent behavior, but he isn’t aware of the intellectual and moral changes going on in Montag. However, he recognizes Montag’s discontent, so he visits Montag. He tells Montag that books are figments of the imagination. Fire is good because it eliminates the conflicts that books can bring. Montag later concludes that Beatty is actually afraid of books and masks his fear with contempt. In effect, his visit is a warning to Montag not to allow the books to seduce him . Notice that Beatty repeatedly displays great knowledge of books and reading throughout this section. Obviously, he is using his knowledge to combat and twist the doubts that Montag is experiencing. In fact, Beatty points out that books are meaningless, because man as a creature is satisfied as long as he is entertained and not left uncertain about anything. Books create too much confusion because the intellectual pattern for man is “out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery. ” Therefore, books disrupt the regular intellectual pattern of man because they lack definitive clarity. Another interesting point discussed by Beatty in this section is how people view death. While discussing death, Beatty points out, “ Ten minutes after death a man ’s a speck of black dust. Let’s not quibble over individuals with memoriums. ” Beatty, therefore, introduces the idea that death isn ’t something that people mourn at this time. Also in this discussion between Beatty and Montag, the reader can question twenty-six CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one whether Clarisse’s death was accidental, as Beatty states, “queer ones like her don’t happen often. We know how to nip most of them in the bud, early. ” The major developments of Part One surround the degenerated future in which books and independent thinking are forbidden. Notice, however, Bradbury’s implicit hope and faith in the common man by representing the life of a working-class fireman. Though Montag isn ’t a man of profound thought or speech, his transformation has occurred through his innate sense of morality and growing awareness of human dignity. Note, as well, the dual image of fire in its destructive and purifying functions. Although fire is destructive, it also warms; hence, the source of the title of Part One, “The Hearth and the Salamander. ” Hearth suggests home and the comforting aspect of fire—its ability to warm and cook. In ancient mythology, the salamander was a creature that could survive fire. Possibly Montag himself is represented in the salamander reference. His job dictates that he live in an environment of fire and destruction, but Montag realizes that the salamander is able to remove itself from fire—and survive. Glossary Here and in the following parts, difficult allusions, terms, and phrases are explained. this great python the fire hose, which resembles a great serpent ; a key image in the novel that serves as a reminder of Adam and Eve’s temptation to disobey God in the Garden of Eden. 451 degrees Fahrenheit catches fire and burns. the temperature at which book paper pigeon-winged books the books come alive and flap their “ wings” as they are thrown into the fire. This connection between books and birds continues throughout the text and symbolizes enlightenment through reading. black beetle-colored helmet in literature, the beetle, with its prominent black horns, is a symbol for Satan. Here, vehicles resemble beetles in the dystopian society. infinitely lacking limits or bounds; extending beyond measure or comprehension. Critical Commentaries: The Hearth and the Salamander 27 salamander a mythological reptile, resembling a lizard, that was said to live in fire. In the concept of nature, the salamander is a visual representation of fire. In mythology, it endures the flames without burning. phoenix in Egyptian mythology, a lone bird that lives in the Arabian desert for five hundred or six hundred years and then sets itself on fire, rising renewed from the ashes to start another long life; a symbol of immortality. Clarisse the girl’s name derives from the Latin word for brightest. Guy Montag his name suggests two significant possibilities—Guy Fawkes, the instigator of a plot to blow up the English Houses of Parliament in 1605, and Montag, a trademark of Mead, an American paper company, which makes stationery and furnaces. man in the moon the perception of children that the contours of the moon’s surface are a face, which peers down at them. The image reflects the oppressive nature of a society that burns books because the man in the moon is always watching them. mausoleum a large, imposing tomb; often a symbol of death used in literature. Used to describe the interior of Guy’s bedroom. moonstones an opal, or a milky-white feldspar with a pearly luster, used as a gem. The moonstone is connected with Mercury, the mythological guide who leads souls to the underworld. black cobra the “ suction snake” that pumps Mildred’s stomach repeats the earlier image of the python; the impersonal handymen who operate it have “eyes of puff adders. ” The fact that it has an eye suggests a sinister and invasive fiber optic tube that examines the inside of the body ’s organs and even the soul. electronic bees futuristic “ seashell ear-thimbles” that block out thoughts and supplant them with mindless entertainment. TV parlor a multidimensional media family that draws the viewer into action, thereby supplanting the viewer ’s real family. That’s what the lady said snappy stage comeback that Mildred uses in place of normal conversation. proboscis a tubular organ for sensing; nose or snout. morphine or procainea sedative and an anesthetic. 28 CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one Beatty the fire captain, who “baits” Montag, is well-named. November four the firemen play cards early on Mischief Day (November 4), the eve of Guy Fawkes Day, when bonfires and burning of guys in effigy commemorate his Gunpowder Plot, an abortive attempt to destroy James I and his Protestant supporters, who oppressed Catholics. Stoneman and Black firemen whose names suggest that the hardness of their hearts and the color of their skin and hair come from contact with smoke. Benjamin Franklin founder of America’s first fire company in Boston in 1736. 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! Bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, Protestant supporters of the late Queen Jane Grey, were burned at the stake for heresy at Oxford on October 16, 1555. They refused to endorse Queen Mary, a Catholic, claiming that she was an illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII, born after he married his late brother’s wife, Catherine of Aragon. Later, Captain Beatty recites the latter portion of the quotation and indicates that he knows something of history. cricket English slang for fair play; sportsmanship. Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine from Chapter one of Dreamthorp, a collection of essays by Alexander Smith, a Glasgow lacemaker. Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1–9, the mythic explanation of how Noah’s children came to speak different languages. The word babel means a confusion of voices, languages, or sounds. centrifuge the sight of being spun in a great gyre delineates Montag ’s impression of separation from reality. cacophony harsh, jarring sound; mindless noise. pratfall slang for a fall on the buttocks, especially one for comic effect, as in burlesque. automatic reflex Beatty uses this term to describe how people stopped using their brains and began depending on nerve functions that require no thought. Critical Commentaries: The Hearth and the Salamander twenty-nine theremin named after Russian inventor Leon Theremin; an early electronic musical instrument whose tone and loudness are controlled by moving the hands in the air between two projecting antennas. our fingers in the dike an allusion to the legend about the Dutch boy who performed a noble, selfless public service in holding back the sea by keeping his finger in a hole in the dike. It is computed that eleven thousand persons have at several times suffered death rather than submit to break their eggs at the smaller end Jonathan Swift illustrates the pettiness of human controversy in Book I, Chapter four of Gulliver’s Travels. The satire found in Swift’s writing emphasizes the absurd extent to which society will go to enforce conformity. When Montag reads this quote to Millie, he is pointing out that people are willing to die rather than conform, even though others may believe their position to be absurd or irrational. 30 CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one Part Two The Sieve and the Sand Summary Millie and Montag spend the rest of the cold, rainy, November afternoon reading through the books that Montag has acquired. As Montag reads, he begins to understand what Clarisse meant when she said that she knew the way that life is to be experienced. So entranced are Montag and Millie by the substance of the books, they ignore the noise of a sniffing dog outside their window. In Millie’s mind, books hold no value; she would rather avoid reality and bask in the fantasy of her television. Although she can choose books and life, she chooses instead to place her loyalties with the television character, White Clown, and the rest of her television family. Montag, however, needs to find someone from whom he can learn and discuss what the books are trying to tell him; he needs a teacher. In his desperation and thirst for knowledge, Montag recalls an encounter last year with an elderly man in the park. The old man, a retired English professor named Faber, made an impression on Montag because he actually spoke with Montag about real things. Montag remembers that he keeps Faber ’s phone number in his files of possible book hoarders, and he determines that if anyone can be his teacher and help him understand books, Faber can. Consequently, Montag takes the subway to Faber ’s home and carries with him a copy of the Bible. Faber is a devotee of the ideas contained in books. He is also concerned with the common good of man. Montag immediately senses Faber’s enthusiasm and readily admits his feelings of unhappiness and emptiness. He confesses that his life is missing the values of books and the truths that they teach. Montag then asks Faber to teach him to understand what he reads. At first, Faber views this new teaching assignment as a useless, as well as dangerous, undertaking. His attitude, however, does not deter Faber from launching into such a challenging and exciting task. Nevertheless, Faber is skeptical and pessimistic of whether books can help their society. As if responding to Faber’s pessimism, Montag Critical Commentaries: The Sieve and the Sand 31 presents Faber with an insidious plan that entails hiding books in the homes of firemen so even they will become suspect. Ultimately, through supposed treason, the firehouses themselves will burn. Faber acknowledges the cleverness of the plan, but cynically, he urges Montag to return home and give up his newly acquired rebelliousness . Faber’s demonstration of cowardice and political nihilism incites Montag to begin ripping pages out of the Bible. Shocked by the destruction of this rare, precious book and stirred by Montag ’s rebellious convictions, Faber agrees to help him. As a result of Montag’s concern about how he will act when he and Beatty next meet, Faber shows Montag one of his inventions—a twoway, Seashell Radio-like communication device that resembles a small green bullet and fits into the ear. Through the use of this device, Faber can be in constant contact with Montag, and he promises to support him if Beatty attempts to intimidate Montag. Through the use of Faber’s spying invention, they listen to Captain Beatty together. Throughout Part Two, the threat of war increases. Ten million men have been mobilized, and the people expect victory. Montag’s war is just beginning. After his meeting with Faber, Montag returns home hoping to discuss ideas and books with Millie. Unfortunately, in Montag’s case, a little learning is dangerous thing, because when he returns home, he finds company. Immediately, he launches into a tirade in the presence of two of Millie ’s human friends, Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles . This tirade will prove costly to his idealistic plans. Montag, who is tired of listening to the women’s meaningless triviality, decides to disconnect the television and begins to attempt a discussion with the women. He reads Matthew Arnold ’s “Dover Beach” in hopes that the women will be motivated to discuss the work. Although the women—especially Mrs. Phelps—are moved by the poem, they can ’t say why and dismiss any further discussion. Faber attempts, through the two-way radio, to calm Montag’s zealous anger. He urges Montag to make believe, to say that he is joking, and Faber commands him to throw his book of poems into the incinerator. Despite Faber ’s admonitions and Millie’s defensive maneuvers, Montag continues by soundly cursing Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles for their empty and corrupt lives. Mrs . Bowles leaves in a fury; Mrs. Phelps, in tears. Characteristically, Millie escapes from this horrible scene by 32 CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one rushing to the bathroom and downing several pills. She wants to sleep and forget. Montag hides several of the remaining books in some bushes in his backyard and then goes off to work. He carries with him a substitute book to give Beatty in place of the Bible that he left with Faber. Montag dreads the meeting with Beatty, even though Faber promises to be with him via the two-way radio implanted in Montag ’s ear . Beatty tries to coax Montag into admitting his crime of stealing (and reading) books, but Faber is true to his word and supports Montag during Beatty’s taunting. Before Montag can respond to Beatty’s tirade, the fire alarm sounds, and the firemen rush off to work. Ironically, Montag realizes that his own home is the firemen ’s target. Commentary While Millie and Montag are reading, Clarisse’s profound influence on Montag becomes obvious. In fact, Montag points out that “ She was the first person I can remember who looked straight at me as if I counted . ” However, Millie and Montag have forgotten—or are ignoring—the danger of their situation. They hear “ a faint scratching” outside the front door and “a slow, probing sniff, and exhalation of electric steam” under the doorsill. Millie’s reaction is “ It’s only a dog . ” Only a dog ? The Mechanical Hound lurks outside, probably programmed by Beatty to collect evidence that he can use later against Montag. The Montags, however, can’t ignore the sounds of bombers crossing the sky over their house, signaling the imminence of war. Although no on knows the cause of the war or its origins, the country is filled with unrest, which is a parallel to the growing unrest and anger smoldering within Montag. Abandonment of reality has become uppermost in Millie’s mind. When Montag speaks to her about the value and merit in books, she shrieks and condemns him for possessing the books. Bradbury describes her as “ sitting there like a wax doll melting in its own heat . ” Here, fire imagery again implies destruction. This time, however, Millie carries the seeds of her own destruction. As stated earlier at the end of Part One, she can choose books (and life). But because she shuns books and the lessons that she can learn from them, Bradbury describes her as a doll that melts in its self-generated heat. Montag, on the other hand, wants to comprehend the information that the books Critical Commentaries: The Sieve and the Sand thirty-three give him. More importantly, however, Montag realizes that he needs a teacher if he wants to fully understand the books’ information. The person to whom Montag chooses to turn, Faber, “ had been thrown out upon the world forty years ago when the last liberal arts college shut for lack of students and patronage. ” Montag recalls from their earlier encounter Faber ’s “ cadenced voice ” and “convictions” ; in particular, Faber’s words seemed a great deal like poetry. He said to Montag, “ I don’t talk things, sir; I talk the meaning of things. I sit here and know I’m alive. ” While riding the subway to Faber’s house, Montag experiences a moment of self-reflection. He discovers that his smile, “the old burntin smile,” has disappeared. He recognizes his emptiness and unhappiness. Moreover, he recognizes his lack of formal education—what he thinks is his essential ignorance. This sense of helplessness, of ineffectuality, of powerlessness, of his utter inability to comprehend what is in books, overwhelms him, and his mind flashes back to a time when he was a child on the seashore “ trying to fill a sieve with sand. ” Montag recalls that “ the faster he poured [the sand], the faster it sifted through with a hot whispering. ” He now has this same feeling of helplessness as he reads the Bible; his mind seems to be a sieve through which the words pass without Montag’s comprehending or remembering them. He knows that in a few hours he must give this precious book to Beatty , so he attempts to read and memorize the scriptures— in particular, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. As he attempts to memorize the passages, however, a loud and brassy advertisement for “Denham’s Dental Detergent” destroys his concentration. Montag is trying to rebel, but he is confused because of his many mental blocks against nonconformity. He has never before deviated from the norm, and his attempts to establish an individual identity are continually frustrated. Montag’s flight to Faber ’s home is his only hope. The scene represents a man running for his life, which, in fact, Montag is doing, though he doesn’t fully realize it yet. Nor does he know that he is already an outcast. He can never return to his former existence. His transformation is inevitable. Of significance in this part of the book is that Faber bears a close resemblance to Carl Jung ’s archetypal figure of the “ old man . ” According to Jung in his essay “The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairy Tales,” the old man archetype represents, on the one hand, knowledge, reflection, insight, wisdom, cleverness, and intuition, and on the other hand, thirty-four CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one he represents such moral qualities as good will and readiness to help, which makes his “spiritual” character sufficiently plain. Faber displays these qualities, and he, like Clarisse, is associated with the color white, symbolic of his spiritual nature: “ He [Faber] and the white plaster walls inside were much the same. There was white in the flesh of his mouth and his cheeks and his hair was white and his eyes had faded, with white in the vague blueness there. ” The color white is significant here because it indicates purity and goodness. White is also the opposite of the blackness of the burnt books and the dark ashes into which they are burned. Besides enlightening Montag, Faber expands on his philosophy about the use of the books, as well as about society in general. (One can’t help but think that Faber ’s discussion is close to Bradbury’s own view, but of course, this assertion is simply speculation.) Faber explains that books have “ quality” and “ texture,” that they reveal stark reality, not only the pleasant aspect of life but also the bad aspects of life: “ They show the pores in the face of life,” and their society finds this discomforting. Tragically, society has started programming thoughts : People are no longer allowed leisure time to think for themselves. Faber insists that leisure is essential to achieving proper appreciation of books. (By “leisure, ” Faber doesn’t mean “off hours,” the time away from work, but simply ample time to think about things beyond one’s self.) Distractions, such as the all-encompassing television walls, simply will not allow for leisure time. Ultimately, however, Faber thinks that the truth in books can never be of value in this society again unless its individuals have “ the right to carry out actions based on” what they find in the books. Books are of value only when people are allowed the freedom to act upon what they ’ve learned. On this last point, Faber is pessimistic; he is convinced that people in his society will never have the freedom to act upon what they ’ve learned. When Montag presents Faber with his plan to incite revenge upon the other firemen, Faber is skeptical because “firemen are rarely necessary” ; their destruction would hardly warrant a change in society. Faber means that “ So few want to be rebels anymore. ” People are too distracted—that is, too “ happy”—to want to change things. After Faber decides to join Montag in his plight, Bradbury later describes this coalition of two as “Montag-plus-Faber, fire plus water. ” Fire and water images blend, because the product resulting from the union of these two separate and opposite items is a third product— wine. Wine looks like water, but it burns like fire. Montag and Faber work together, because all is far from well in the world. Critical Commentaries: The Sieve and the Sand 35 By joining Montag, Faber also states that he will be, in effect, “the Queen Bee,” remaining safely in the hive; Montag is “ the drone . ” Before parting, they initiate plans to “ [print ] a few books, and wait on the war to break the pattern and give us the push we need. A few bombs and the ‘ families’ in the walls of all the homes, like harlequin rats, will shut up! ” Perhaps this subversion (the destruction of TV) will restore the public’s interest in books. However, despite his decision to help Montag, Faber acknowledges that he is ultimately a coward. He will stay safe at home while Montag faces the threat of punishment. As the threat of war increases, you can see that the war is a parallel to Montag ’s attitude concerning his own personal battle. His inner turmoil intensifies. Armed with a friend such as Faber, the two-way greenbullet radio, and a beginner’s knowledge of the true value of books, he is now ready to wage war against Beatty and the rest of his stagnant society. Montag feels that he is becoming a new man, intoxicated by his newfound inner strength, but his is an idealistic knowledge blended with the zealousness of a convert; he has not considered any sort of pragmatic implementation plan . When Montag meets with Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles, he forgets that they are a good deal like Millie; they are devoted to their television families, they are politically enervated, and they show little interest in the imminent war. Because their husbands are routinely called away to war, the women are unconcerned. War has happened before and it may happen again. Listening to their empty babble, animated by his rebel posture, and with Faber whispering comfortably in his ear, Montag impulsively shouts, “Let’s talk . ” He begins reading from “ Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold: Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night. 36 CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one Despite their flippancy and chatter, the women are moved, but again, they do not understand why. Although Mildred makes the choice of what her husband should read, Matthew Arnold’s poem typifies Montag’s pessimism as he tries to fathom the vapid, purposeless lifestyles of the three women. The poem forces the women to respond—Mrs. Phelps with tears and Mrs. Bowles with anger. The Cheshire catlike smiles that Millie and her friends wear indicate their illusion of happiness. Montag imagines these smiles as burning through the walls of the house. Ironically, smiles should signify joy, but not in this case, just as they did not in Montag’s case. However, the smiles of these women are destructive and perhaps evil. Furthermore, Millie and her friends are characterized by fire imagery; they light cigarettes and blow the smoke from their mouths. They all have “ sun-fired” hair and “blazing” fingernails. They, like the fleet of firemen, are headed toward their own destruction. After this disastrous situation with Millie, Mrs. Phelps, and Mrs. Bowles, Montag anxiously prepares for his meeting with Beatty. Captain Beatty’s suspicion of Montag steadily increases as he watches Montag with an “alcohol-flame stare. ” While Beatty is baiting Montag to slip about stealing books, Faber proves himself to be a good partner to Montag and supports him throughout the entire confrontation. In a most striking diatribe, Beatty reveals that he is extremely well read; he accurately quotes authors from a wide range of historical periods and is able to apply what he has read. He has obviously thought about what the works mean and, in a curious way, uses them to good effect against Montag. He is aware of Montag’s newfound zealousness (as Beatty states, “Read a few lines and off you go over a cliff. Bang, you’re ready to blow up the world, chop off heads, knock down women and children, destroy authority,”) and manages to urge Montag in a direction that would cause him to abandon his recently acquired humanistic convictions. Through ignoring the title of the book returned by Montag, Beatty shows that he is aware of Montag’s collection and is trying to get Montag to admit his guilt. Also, Beatty wants to prove to Montag that the title (and the book itself ) is not significant. The only important point about the book is that it needs to be destroyed. Montag can ’t respond to Beatty’s denunciation of him ( no doubt his rebuttal would have failed miserably) because the fire alarm sounds. In a colossal act of irony, Montag realizes when the firemen are called to action that his own home is the target for the firemen. Instead of Critical Commentaries: The Sieve and the Sand thirty-seven implementing a plan to undermine the firemen by planting books in their houses, Montag, in a grotesque reversal of expectations, becomes a victim himself. Part Two centers on Montag’s first personal experience with ideas found in books, and it details his change into a social rebel. The section seemingly ends on a note of defeat. Glossary We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over from James Boswell’s Life of Dr. Johnson, published in 1791. The quotation helps Montag understand his relationship with the mysterious Clarisse, who brings joy into his life for no obvious reason. That favorite subject. Myself. taken from a letter of the British biographer James Boswell, dated July 16, 1763. The quotation emphasizes the chasm that separates Montag from Mildred, who shuns self-analysis and submerges herself in drugs and the television programs that sedate her mind. half out of the cave Bradbury alludes to Plato’s cave allegory, found in Book seven of his Republic. The analogy describes how people rely on flickering shadows as their source of reality. Faber the character’s name suggests that of Peter Faber (1506–1545), tutor of Ignatius Loyola and founder of two Jesuit colleges. Mr. Jefferson? Mr. Thoreau? Thomas Jefferson, the chief author of the Declaration of Independence, and Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden and Civil Disobedience. This phrase is used to illustrate that all books and authors are valuable. These two authors are chosen to show who wrote about revolution and fighting opression. dentrifice any preparation for cleaning teeth. This word is part of the phrase that Montag hears repeatedly in the subway. Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they In his surreal dash on the subway toward Faber’s house, Montag tries to read a line from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel of thirty-eight CliffsNotes Bradbury’s Fahrenheit four hundred and fifty-one St. Matthew. The line, which is taken from Chapter 6, verses 28–29, concludes, “ And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ” This quotation reminds Montag that spiritual hunger is greater than material need. Caesar’s praetorian guard a reference to the bodyguards that surrounded the Roman Caesars, beginning with Rome’s first emperor, Octavian, later named Augustus. While holding back the mob, the praetorians wielded supreme control over the rulers who they sought to protect, and they are thought to have assassinated Caligula and replaced him with Claudius, a crippled historian who was their choice of successor. the salamander devours its tail Faber, who creates a way to implicate firemen in their own menace and therefore eradicate them, characterizes his plot with an image of self-destruction. this electronic cowardice Faber, an old man who is too fearful to confront Captain Beatty, is willing to direct Montag’s confrontation through his electronic listening and speaking device. The Book of Job Faber selects this book of the Old Testament, which describes how Job is tested by God. The upshot of Job’s struggle with suffering, loss, and temptation is that he learns to trust. Vesuvius a volcano near Naples that erupted August 24, seventy-nine A.D., burying the citizens of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Cheshire cat a grinning cat, a character from Chapter six of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. In again out again Finnegan a common nonsense rhyme indicating Mrs. Phelps’ lack of concern about the war and her husband’s part in it. The quotation restates “Off again, on again, gone again, Finnegan,” a terse telegram about a rail crash from Finnegan (a railroad boss) to Flanagan (his employer). fire plus water Montag, who perceives the split halves of his being, anticipates the distillation of his fiery self into wine after Faber has molded his intellect with wisdom and teaching. Who are a little wise, the best fools be a line from John Donne’s poem “The Triple Fool,” which Beatty uses to confuse and stifle Montag. Critical Commentaries: The Sieve and the Sand 39 the sheep returns to the fold. We’re all sheep who have strayed at times Beatty alludes to the prophecy in Isaiah 53:6: “ All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned ever one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all . ” The message implies that Montag has betrayed his fellow firemen. Truth is truth, to the end of reckoning Beatty’s montage of quotations rambles on to a verse from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Act V, Scene i, Line 45. They are never alone that are accompanied with noble thoughts a verse taken from Sir Philip Sidney ’s Arcadia, which in turn paraphrases a line from Beaumont and Fletcher’s Love’s Cure, Act III, Scene iii. Sweet food of sweetly uttered knowledge Sidney’s Defense of Poesy. a line from Sir Philip Words are like leaves and where they most abound, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found Beatty quotes a couplet from Alexander Pope’s Essay on Criticism as cynical commentary on his profusely garbled and contradictory recitation. A little learning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring; There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again a famous pair of couplets from Alexander Pope’s Essay on Criticism, which warns the learner that scholarship requires dedication for maximum effect. seasoning is more than equivalent to force an aphorism from Chapter thirteen of Dr. Samuel Johnson ’s Rasselas. He is no wise man that will quit a certainty for an uncertainty aphorism from Dr. Samuel Johnson’s Idler . an Truth will come to light, murder will not be hid long! from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene ii, Line 86. Oh God, he speaks only of his horse a paraphrase of “ he doth nothing but talk of his horse” from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, skit I, Scene ii, Lines 37–38. The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpo
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