Mr. Marzo's High School English Classroom Web Site Cerritos High School CHS
Part 1 - The Hearth and the Salamander.
The hearth represents the home, and the cozy aspect of fire, its function to heat and cook. The salamander is a creature, which according to ancient folklore, was able to survive fire. The question the reader has to ask is whether Montag will be able to escape destruction as he is playing with fire by hoarding books. It is important that the reader realizes that this book was written just after the Second World War, and this clearly had some influence on Bradbury in depicting this 24th Century world as being miserable and oppressive. We are faced immediately with the paradox that firemen in this world start fires and don’t put them out. Firemen are also people of considerable power, and members of the general public are in fear of these officials as much as the police, who are not referred to extensively in this part of the book. The protagonist, Montag, is first influenced by his new young 17-year old neighbor, Clarisse. She is a bright, curious girl who arouses Montag’s own latent curiosity, and gives him the ability to think again about his own life and the work that he does. She introduces him to quite simple experiences, childlike, but this fresh approach brings light into Montag’s life of dismal routine. Apparently, Clarisse and her family are already known to the authorities. She has to attend a psychiatrist and other members of her family have been arrested for minor offences. It is safe to assume that Clarisse’s inability to conform is dangerous, and as Captain Beatty says, “She was a time bomb. …… The poor girl’s better off dead …… luckily, queer ones like her don’t happen often.” Here we have a society that extinguishes an innocent teenager who just happens to be curious, and asks the wrong questions. If she had not been so naïve, she might have survived.The reason for books being burnt is so that everyone can be happy. They live in a world with no conflict, with no debate, where everyone is equal. To the firemen, the books are just ‘things’, rubbish to be burnt, and they have no conscience about this. They have been conditioned to do this work. Montag comes from a long line of firemen, and still carries out his work efficiently until he confronts the old lady who dies in the flames with her books. Montag starts to realize that the books represent people’s thoughts and views. A person may have spent their whole life writing books, and he and his men can destroy them in minutes. Bradbury gives us the initial picture of Montag looking at himself in the mirror and seeing his blackened face like a mask, or a minstrel. He comments that it is the face of a “smiling fireman”, but towards the end of this part of the book, not only is the black soot a mask, but the smile is as well. The Montags’ lives are so monotonous, they cannot even recall where or when they met. They have no family of their own. Millie’s life revolves around her television family, in particular the interactive plays. By collecting box tops, she can apply for scripts so that she can take part in the plays. She just sits in front of her three wall screens and when the characters in the play look at her, she says her lines. The reader may think that this is a sad way in which to escape from the reality of your existence. Millie’s mind, through lack of stimulation, has become an inactive organ, and she cannot control the taking of her tranquilizers and sleeping pills. She is found comatose by her husband who calls in the stomach pump and blood technicians who recall her back to life, and charge $50 for the service. The next day, she cannot recount the episode and her husband recount the episode and her husband realizes the sad state of their relationship.Captain Beatty, the Fire Chief, is similar to O’Brien in Orwell’s ‘1984’. He has to keep his men under control, and keep an eye out for any deviants. It seems that the Mechanical Hound senses Montag’s emerging independence and questioning attitude, which has been inspired by Clarisse. She gives the reader an insight into the lives of teenagers in this society. She describes school as a bland place where nobody asks any questions. She says that the film teachers just bombard you with the answers, “It’s a lot of funnels and a lot of water poured down a spout and out the bottom, and them telling us its wine when its not.” In other words, education is just lots of information imposed on the students who are told that it is good, but in fact it is meaningless, and they have no opportunity to question. After school, they can go to the fun park to bully people, or break windows at the smasher place, or wreck cars at the car wrecker place with a big steel ball. There appears to be little or no policing and it is quite common for there to be fatalities among the young. Clarisse has lost six of her friends through shootings in the last year alone. There are also many car crashes, and the police are only concerned that the drivers are properly insured.So far as the Mechanical Hound is concerned, it seems to be a method for keeping pests under control, and this includes dissident firemen. In the book we hear that the Seattle Fire Chief committed suicide by providing the Mechanical Hound with his own chemical format, and then letting it loose.Bradbury illustrates his descriptive writing throughout the book, but perhaps one of the most striking scenes is that of the burning of the old lady’s books, “Books bombarded his shoulders, his arms, his upturned face. A book alighted, almost obediently, like a white pigeon, in his hands, wings fluttering. In the dim wavering light, a page hung open and it was like a snowy feather, the words delicately painted thereon.” Montag had time to read one of the lines and it said, “Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine” from Glasgow lace maker, Alexander Smith’s Collection of Essays, “Dreamthorp”. This work is punctuated with Bradbury’s beautiful prose and illuminating dialogue, which bring to life the society that he has created in his mind. This society is based on the theory that happiness can be obtained through an absence of knowledge and individual thought. Bradbury indicates that this is achieved by indoctrinating the citizens of this world at an early age, much like Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’. Other similar themes are the dependence on drugs as a means to escape the realities of society, and communal activities. Those that cannot conform are suitably punished or disposed of, as in Clarisse’s case
Part 2 -Interpretation
Just as there is growing tension in Part 1 of the book,
so there is a similar trend in Part 2. The title of this part stems from a memory Montag has from his childhood when he was playing on a sand dune, and we assume that he had a much closer affinity to nature then, than now. The fact that he recalls this instance suggests that he is emerging from years of mundane routine and becoming a nonconformist, and this transition is exhilarating.
However, the reader worries that their hero may become rash and expose his rebellious thoughts to the powers that be.
The reader can relate to the people of this society because he/she is in the same position, in that Bradbury does not provide us with a detailed picture of this world. We only receive glimpses of it. So, like them, we are in the dark to some degree.
Montag vainly tries to bring his wife Millie on board, but she wishes to remain in a world of ignorance. Trying to bring her to her senses, he asks her if she loves her television family, but she is unable to answer. All that Montag is doing is to drive his wife further away into a total land of make-believe, as provided by the parlor screens. All she can see is ruin for them if Montag persists in these acts of nonconformity. She says, ‘“Who is more important, me or that Bible?” She was beginning to shriek now, sitting there like a wax doll melting in its own heat.’
Again Bradbury makes reference to the destructive powers of fire and heat.
Millie comes over as a really sad person. She is on a descending spiral of meaninglessness.
Bradbury uses symbolism again using the color white in his description of the old English Professor. You will remember he used a similar technique when describing Clarisse. The color white represents the qualities of good and purity, and of course fire is a symbol of evil and destruction.
Faber later refers to himself as being water, and says that he will extinguish the fire that is within Montag and hopefully, in other firemen. Through time, the bringing together of these two widely varying elements will produce a lasting blend which he describes as wine.
Faber has been preparing for this revolution. He has invented an electronic device that Montag will wear in his ear, which is a receiver and transmitter. Faber will use this device to support Montag when he comes in contact with Captain Beatty. In fact, Faber will be using Montag’s body as an extension of his own thoughts. Montag has become the catalyst through which change can be brought about. Faber describes the relationship between himself and Montag as that of a “queen bee to a drone”.
Bradbury brings it home to the reader how much Faber values books through the scene where Montag starts ripping pages out of the Bible in order to secure Faber’s support.
The reader hopes that Montag’s conversation with Faber will make him more cautious, but when he returns home, he again blatantly reveals to Millie’s friends that he has a book. To add to this crime he reads from it to the ladies who have a mixed response. One is moved by the poetry being reduced to tears, and the other uses this to highlight the unsettling effect that books have on people.
Despite Faber’s attempts through the spying device to restrict Montag, he is out of control and Faber must fear for the success of their plans.
We again have more examples of Bradbury’s descriptive writing, none more so than in the opening paragraph of this part of the book. It is well worth reading again!
Bradbury’s main theme for this book is the importance of the written word and how it is a basic ingredient of humanity. Although some pertinent quotations appear in Part 1 of the book, Part 2 is riddled with relevant quotes, many of which come from Captain Beatty’s mouth, a man who clearly is well-read.
The reader takes the view, therefore, that the Captain hasn’t made the sacrifices that the general population have.
The reader may have expected a duel of quotations between Captain Beatty and Faber via Montag, but this does not transpire. Instead, the climax of this part of the book is the realization that the firemen have been called out to Montag’s home, presumably to burn his books.
The reader may wonder why Bradbury picks on the Bible as Montag’s choice of book to take to the old man. Maybe it is to heighten the sacrilege of Montag’s page-ripping episode, which may not have had the same impact as pulling pages out of a novel or storybook.
Bradbury also uses the Bible to introduce to the reader, the idea that people, whatever their state, need a God, and this society still has Christ as part of their religion, but he has been incorporated into one of the television families.
Faber’s main contribution to this part of the book is to clarify what is missing in this modern society. It is clear that Faber is Bradbury’s mouthpiece, and what he tries to do is to encapsulate what the soul of humanity is. He suggests that this modern society lacks a quality of life, and part of the reason for that is the absence of books. Books stimulate the mind, and just like people, they are infinitely varied. The problem with this society is that it uses its leisure time pointlessly. People are absorbed by the life portrayed on the television screens. They live a censored life. They have no access to books or other written works, and they are “entertained” by mindless drivel.
Bradbury goes on to say that it is not sufficient to remove censorship. People must be encouraged to enjoy their environment to the full - to be able to ask questions - to be allowed to read books - and most importantly, to be able to act upon the information they receive from this open way of life.
Throughout this part of the book, there is the underlying threat of war, but the reader is not clear what effect this will have on the storyline. Will it help or hinder Faber and Montag’s revolution?
Part 3 - Interpretation
The last part of the book is entitled “Burning Bright”, part of the first line of William Blake’s famous poem. This can symbolize many things in this part of the book. Certainly, Montag’s home burns brightly in the flames of incineration, and then so does Beatty. Later on the city burns bright, as it is destroyed by the enemy bombs. All these symbols represent evil and destruction, and Blake suggests this in his poem - that the tiger is an evil creature whose full extent or symmetry is difficult to comprehend. There is, however, a deeper and more permanent meaning to this, and Bradbury is suggesting that the future for Montag and the other suppressed thousands looks bright.
Up until now, the reader has had a distinct picture of Captain Beatty, but the circumstances concerning his death raise an element of doubt about his totally evil façade. The reader gets the impression that Beatty is fighting with his conscience, as he does not really want to arrest Montag. Although he taunts Montag, this is done through the means of quotes from literature, for example, “Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that he’s burnt his damn wings, he wonders why.” This is a reference to the flight of Icarus. If Beatty was totally loyal to the system, he would not have given Montag warnings about his behavior.
The first question is why he decides to come on this callout. Surely this is not to torment Montag, for there will have been other occasions when firemen have gone astray. Perhaps deep down he is tired of his existence as well, and is unhappy, and can no longer justify his actions in destroying books. He, himself, said that a little learning is a dangerous thing. His intention may be to use Montag as a tool for his own destruction. Perhaps he seeks suicide and will goad Montag into being his unwitting tool. However, it isn’t the most pleasant way to die, and he may think that Montag is incapable of doing this deed. What he does not know is Faber’s part in this episode, and when he discovers this and threatens to track Faber down, this is what sparks Montag into pulling the trigger.
What do you think?
It has also been a crucial time for Millie. She is faced with the dilemma of siding with her husband or her television family, and she chooses the latter. After informing the authorities and waiting for their arrival, she speedily leaves the scene in a taxi, presumably for a hotel where she can resume watching the screen. The description of Millie as she leaves the scene is symbolic. Her face is powdered white, her lips colorless, and her body stiff, symbolizing the corpse which she will soon become.
However, the character that undergoes the greatest transformation is of course, Montag. During this part he is reborn and discovers the joys of freedom and the stimulation of like-minded individuals. He also loses his rashness, and through quick and clear thinking, is able to escape the scene and the city whilst safeguarding his friend, Faber.
Like the phoenix, Montag passes through fire in order to obtain resurrection. He has become the total rebel, and even has the presence of mind to at least condemn one fellow fireman, Black, before he leaves the city.
Bradbury gives us further insight into this soulless society. Montag’s escape is being televised and this has two purposes. Firstly this is to entertain, and secondly, it is a warning to the people of what can happen if you step out of line. The conclusion of this program is never in doubt. If they don’t actually catch Montag himself, they will get someone else as a stand-in.
Like ‘Big Brother’ the authorities are aware of what their citizens get up to, and the chase is led to where an innocent nonconformist will be walking. He now becomes Montag and will be sacrificed in his stead.
There is a parallel theme between what Montag has gone through from fire to freedom, and that which the society will go through, from war to enlightenment - at least that is the hope.
Bradbury turns the story into a real thriller while Montag is being pursued. Our hero is placed in a very difficult situation from which there seems no hope of escape. The reader anticipates what is going to happen - the destruction of Montag’s home, the books he has saved, and the capture of Faber arising perhaps out of Montag’s torture by the authorities. However, it is in fact Captain Beatty that gives Montag a glimmer of hope by forcing him to burn his own home. Using the flame-thrower, this tool of destruction, he murders Beatty, but he still has the task of escaping the city.
Bradbury writes in various obstacles making this task difficult for our hero.
Firstly, it is the Mechanical Hound. Then it is the crazy drivers on the Boulevard. If Montag had not tripped at a vital time, he would have been run over. Fate is on his side. The suspense is further heightened by the introduction of another specially trained Mechanical Hound to replace the one destroyed by Montag.
Our hero then has the problem of escaping whilst ensuring that Faber is safe. Much to the frustration of the reader. Montag stops off to implicate one of his fellow firemen, whilst the reader just wants him to escape the city.
Finally, Montag makes it to the river and escapes to the countryside and relative safety.
The character of Grainger, serves as a foil for Captain Beatty.
He is part of a community that preserves the contents of books before they are destroyed by fire. They possess no books apart from those that are being consigned to memory. The members of the group are the books, and in this way signify their rebellion against the system.
As you might expect, most of these outcasts are well-educated, being former professors, doctors etc. They have their own technology to combat the likes of Beatty and the Mechanical Hound. Grainger has the means to change the chemical makeup of sweat, and they are able to reintroduce long-forgotten techniques such as total memory recall.
The reader should not forget the part played in this story by Clarisse. She was the one that inspired Montag into reexamining his life and that of his wife. In fact Clarisse acts as a foil for Mildred. Just as Clarisse inspired Montag, so he now inspires Faber to be more than a pseudo-rebel - to be an activist. He leaves the city for St. Louis in order to help the cause.
The Mechanical Hound is the real science fiction ingredient of this story, part alive, part machine, half dog, half spider, a concoction of copper wire, storage batteries, and blue electricity. It is an ever-present menace throughout the book. It carries a lethal sting in the form of a four-inch hollow steel needle, containing morphine or procaine. Once it has your scent, it will track you down and eliminate you. It is a development from other such evil creatures, which are found throughout mythology.
Part III: Burning Bright
III. Preview F451 "Part Three: Burning Bright" Pages 113 - 165 together in class
I. Begin reading F451 "Part Three:
Burning Bright" at home. Pages 113 - 130
II. Answer the following questions - Due Wed 11/16/05
1. TF Beatty had given Montag a hint that
he was under suspicion by sending the Hound.
2. Who must have brought back the books from the garden?
3. Who said, "'When you're quite finished, you're under arrest'"?
4. What three people turned in an alarm against Montag?
5. What happened to Montag's green bullet, his electronic ear?
6. Montag shot one continuous pulse of liquid fire on whom?
7. TF Other Salamanders were in route to recover and destroy
Mildred's four remaining books.
8. TF Faber went to the steaming lump of tar to see if Montag
had really torched Beatty.
9. TF Montag "stumbled and fell" because the beetle "fired
from an invisible rifle."
10. TF Sirens successfully followed Montag to Faber's house
and destroyed the other audiocapsules.
11. What is Montag's plan?
12. How much money did Montag give Faber?
13. Because of its odor indexes, the new Mechanical Hound
can remember how many scents?
14. Why did Montag want Faber to turn on the
air-conditioning and sprinklers?
15. TF Faber "vanished in the Hound's muzzle."
16. Interpret: "Twenty million Montags running, soon,
if the cameras caught him."
17. Why had the search veered inland?
18. Who died in Montag's place?
19. What did Granger mean by saying "'Welcome
back from the dead'" to Montag?
20. When a person from Granger's crowd is stopped by
a city person, why isn't there anything on his
personhood to incriminate himself?
21. Yes or No: Might a different chapter live in a different town?
22. Millie's ineptitude with her hands was compared
to whose wonderful carvings?
23. Granger stressed this one thought: "You're not important.
You're not anything." Why did he espouse such an idea?
I. Journal #1 (1/2 Page)
A. Describe how Montag changes throughout the story.
B. “A long time ago firemen put out fires” Discuss the loss of history.
Why is it important to know history? Do you see any examples of a
How does Montag get out of the city?
How do the wanderers “become” books?
Why do the police stop chasing Montag?
What book of the Bible does Montag decide to become?
What happens to Montag’s city?
I. Warm-Up DOL - ANALOGIES
Choose the best answer:
1) ABRASION is to STROKE as......
(A) boil : heat (B) rubble : demolish
(C) flattery : compliment (D) remnant : cut (E) nut : shell
2) JUDGE : IMPARTIAL ::
(A) animal : tame (B) acrobat : limber
(C) dignitary : proud (D) prisoner : repentant (E) politician : liberal
3) DRAWER : BUREAU :: (A) tributary : river (B) trunk : tree
(C) article : magazine (D) kernel : husk (E) language : dictionary
4) BATHE : WATER :: (A) spread : knife (B) fly : airplane
(C) obstruct : plug (D) point : finger (E) cover : coat
5) ILLICIT : RATIFY :: (A) obsolete : preserve (B) confusing : obscure
(C) popular : criticize (D) insignificant : highlight (E) belligerent : appease
6) PROTAGONIST : CHARACTER :: (A) brush : applicator (B) lawmaker : government
(C) costume : gala (D) conductor : orchestra (E) novice : competitor
7) CULTIVATE : GARDEN :: (A) play : game (B) worship : church
(C) explore : cave (D) relax : vacation (E) steer : automobile
8) EMPLOY : INDIGENCE :: (A) expose : dormancy (B) arrive : presence
(C) submerge : buoyancy (D) season : blandness (E) know : ignorance
9) SIEVE : DIVIDE :: (A) staple : collate (B) funeral : mourn
(C) siphon : squeeze (D) panacea : remedy (E) monarch : serve
10) MEDIATE : MEDDLE :: (A) reason : think (B) accumulate : hoard
(C) neglect : abandon (D) surpass : cheat (E) discourage : burden
I. Journal #2 - Bradbury weaves in the theme of the
corruption caused by excessive reliance on machines
rather than humans in the story F451. Since everything
in this 24th century society is done through automation,
humans have lost the ability to do even the simplest of tasks.
Make a list of things that humans no longer do because
machines have taken their place. What are some of the dangers
of a society being automated? What technologies do we have
today that could be harmful to society. Please explain in detail.
Journal #3 (One Full Page)
What will Montag do after the war? Will he stay with his new friends,
“the books,” traveling and sharing his message from Ecclesiastes with
whomever will listen? Will he break off with them to search for Clarisse
and/or Mildred? Will he try to keep his appointment with Professor Faber
in St. Louis? And if those two do meet, will they carry out their plot involving
the retired printer and planting books in firemen’s homes? Imagine the course
of action you hope that Montag will take and write your own epilogue to the novel.
I. Warm Up - Fahrenheit 451 Crossword Puzzle II. Journal # 4 "Diary of a Fireman"
For this task you will create a diary.
You must write this diary as if you were
a firemen living in Montag's world.
You must make at least 5 one paragraph
entries. You must include what you did that
day; how many books you burned and how
you felt before, during, and after you set them aflame.
III. Current Event Presentaion:
Break up into your project groups and exchange
Newspapers/Magazines. Working together, choose
5 articles that you like the best and summarize them
on a sheet of paper. Include all group member's names
on your paper and indicate the article title & publication
name( and/or group number) of each story that your
group selects. Ultimately, you will be choosing 1 of the 5
articles to present to your classmates.
Meet with group members to determine which newspaper/
Magazine article your group will present. Select one
individual to speak for your group. Have them share your
favorite article with the class.
Part II: The Sieve and the Sand
A. It is appropriate that Montag has a flashback to the sieve and the sand
; its symbolism is self-explanatory, and its relevance is obvious. Montag
is trying to memorize as much as possible from his books, especially from
the Bible, but everything he reads seems to slip away from him. "The words
fell through, and he thought, in a few hours, there will be Beatty, and here will
be one handing this over, so no phrase must escape me, each line must be
memorized." His failure at memorization frustrates him to the point of tears,
just as when he was as a child trying to fill up the sieve with sand.
B. Faber at first resists Montag, not even wanting to let him in his home;
however, when he sees Montag's Bible, he is too excited to refuse him entry.
It is the first copy of the Bible that old man has seen in a very long time.
When Montag wants to talk about books with the old professor, he again resists;
but he finally consents, for he knows it will be very pleasurable to discuss ideas
again, despite the risk. Bradbury then uses Faber as a mouthpiece for his own ideas.
Faber explains how books make people uncomfortable, for they force them to constantly think and re-evaluate themselves. He adds that books alone are not the answer; people must also have the "right to carry out the actions" they learn in books. His idealism makes Montag realize that books must be reintroduced as a first step towards changing the face of society. He comes up with a plan to bring about the needed changes. He and Faber can plant books in all the firehouses and in all the homes of the firemen. Then all the firemen and the firehouses must be destroyed, leaving no means for future book burnings to be carried out. Once again, Faber resists Montag; in the end, however, he agrees to help his new friend in carrying out his plan. He even gives Montag one of his inventions, a listening device that can be hidden in the ear. It will allow Faber to recite passages of books to Montag at any place and at any time, even when he is sleeping.
C. In this scene, Montag breaks in frustration and shows one of his booksto Mildred's vapid friends; it is a momentary lapse in control that could ruinboth him and Millie. Fortunately, due to Faber's calming words of advice inhis ear and Millie's quick thinking, the women are convinced that Montag hasbeen allowed to bring the book home form the fire station. To further convincethem of the lie, Montag reads the ladies a poem out of the book and thenproceeds to toss it in the incinerator; the women seem to believe the story.The poem that Montag reads is "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold. Eventhe foolish and empty-headed neighbors are affected by Montag's emotionalreading; Mrs. Phelps is brought to tears, while Mrs. Bowles grows furious.Bradbury is clearly showing the power of poetry to transform even the mostshallow of lives. After the ladies leave, Montag realizes the potential catastrophehe has nearly caused; he decides he must cover his tracks. He hides some ofhis books outside and selects one to take to the station and turn in to Beatty.With Faber reassuring him the whole time through the ear device, Montagbegins to execute his damage control.When Montag gets to the station, suspense once again builds.The absence of the Mechanical Hound is frightening and ominous.In addition, Beatty's cool response to Montag indicates that he isnot fooled by the return of one book. Montag, however, manages tostay calm with the help of Faber's quiet and calm reassurances onthe earphone. When the alarm bell rings, Beatty is unnaturally calmand unhurried. He glances at the address of the criminal and shovesit in his pocket. When the fireman arrive at the house they are to burn,Montag realizes it is his own. Part Two closes with this shocking turn of events.
I. Warm-Up Journal
II. Review Fahrenheit 451, Part 2: "The Seive and the Sand" - See Notes above
Montag and Mildred spend the afternoon reading. The Mechanical Hound
comes and sniffs at the door. Montag speculates about what it was that
made Clarisse so unique. Mildred refuses to talk about someone who is
dead and complains that she prefers the people and the pretty colors on
her TV walls to books. Montag feels that books must somehow be able to
help him out of his ignorance, but he does not understand what he is reading
and decides that he must find a teacher. He thinks back to an afternoon a
year before when he met an old English professor named Faber in the park.
It was apparent that Faber had been reading a book of poetry before Montag
arrived. The professor had tried to hide the book and run away, but after
Montag reassured him that he was safe, they talked, and Faber gave him
his address and phone number. Now Montag calls the professor. He asks
him how many copies of the Bible, Shakespeare, or Plato are left in the
country. Faber, who thinks Montag is trying to trap him, says none are
left and hangs up the phone.
Montag goes back to his pile of books and realizes that he took
from the old woman what may be the last copy of the Bible in
existence. He considers turning in a substitute to Beatty (who
knows he has at least one book), but he realizes that if Beatty
knows which book he took, the chief will guess that he has a
whole library if he gives him a different book. He decides to have
a duplicate made before that night. Mildred tells him that some
of her friends are coming over to watch TV with her. Montag,
still trying to connect with her, asks her rhetorically if the “family”
on TV loves her. She dismisses his question. He takes the subway
to Faber’s, and on the way tries to memorize verses from the Bible.
A jingle for Denham’s Dentifrice toothpaste distracts him, and finally
he gets up in front of all the passengers and screams at the radio to
shut up, waving his book around. The astonished passengers start to
call a guard, but Montag gets off at the next stop.Montag goes to Faber
and shows him the book, which alleviates Faber’s fear of him, and he
asks the old man to teach him to understand what he reads. Faber
says that Montag does not know the real reason for his unhappiness
and is only guessing that it has something to do with books, since
they are the only things he knows for sure are gone. Faber insists
that it’s not the books themselves that Montag is looking for, but
the meaning they contain. The same meaning could be included
in existing media like television and radio, but people no longer
demand it. Faber compares their superficial society to flowers
trying to live on flowers instead of on good, substantive dirt:
people are unwilling to accept the basic realities and unpleasant
aspects of life.Faber says that people need quality information,
the leisure to digest it, and the freedom to act on what they learn.
He defines quality information as a textured and detailed knowledge
of life, knowledge of the “pores” on the face of humanity. Faber agrees
with Mildred that television seems more “real” than books, but he
dislikes it because it is too invasive and controlling. Books at least
allow the reader to put them down, giving one time to think and reason
about the information they contain. Montag suggests planting books
in the homes of firemen to discredit the profession and see the
firehouses burn. Faber doesn’t think that this action would get to
the heart of the problem, however, lamenting that the firemen aren’t
really necessary to suppress books because the public stopped
reading them of its own accord even before they were burned.
Faber says they just need to be patient, since the coming war
will eventually mean the death of the TV families. Montag
concludes that they could use that as a chance to bring
books back.Montag bullies Faber out of his cowardice by
tearing pages out of the precious Bible one by one, and
Faber finally agrees to help, revealing that he knows
someone with a printing press who used to print his
college newspaper. Montag asks for help with Beatty
that night, and Faber gives him a two-way radio he has
created that will fit in Montag’s ear; that way the professor
can hear what Beatty has to say and also prompt Montag.
Montag decides to risk giving Beatty a substitute book,
and Faber agrees to see his printer friend. After Montag’s visit
with Faber through the end of “The Sieve and the Sand”
Summary Montag withdraws money from his account to give to Faber
and listens to reports over the radio that the country is mobilizing for war.
Faber reads to him from the Book of Job over the two-way radio in his ear.
He goes home, and two of Mildred’s friends, Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles,
arrive and promptly disappear into the TV parlor. Montag turns off the TV
walls and tries to engage the three women in conversation. They reluctantly
oblige him, but he becomes angry when they describe how they voted in
the last presidential election, based solely on the physical appearance and
other superficial qualities of the candidates. Their detached and cynical
references to their families and the impending war angers him further. He
brings out a book of poetry and shows it to them, despite their objections
and Faber’s (delivered via his ear radio). Mildred quickly concocts a lie,
explaining that a fireman is allowed to bring home one book a year to show
to his family and prove what nonsense books are. Faber orders Montag
to take the escape route Mildred has provided by agreeing with her.
Refusing to be deterred, Montag reads the women “Dover Beach” by
Matthew Arnold. Mrs. Phelps, who has just told everyone quite
casually about her husband’s departure for the oncoming war,
bursts into tears, and Mrs. Bowles declares the cause to be the
evil, emotional messiness of poetry. She denounces Montag for
reading it. Montag drops the book into the incinerator at Faber’s
prompting. He yells at Mrs. Bowles to go home and think about
her empty life, and both women leave. Mildred disappears into the
bedroom. Montag discovers that she has been burning the books
one by one, and he rehides them in the backyard. Montag feels
guilty for upsetting Mildred’s friends and wonders if they are right
in focusing only on pleasure. Faber tells him that he would agree
if there were no war and all was right with the world, but that those
realities call for attention.Montag heads off to the fire station, and
Faber both scolds and consoles him on the way. Montag hands
his book over to Beatty, who throws it into the trashcan without
even looking at the title and welcomes him back after his period
of folly. Beatty browbeats Montag with a storm of literary quotations
to confuse him and convince him that books are better burned than
read. Montag is so afraid of making a mistake with Beatty that he
cannot move his feet. Faber tells him not to be afraid of mistakes,
as they sharpen the mind. An alarm comes through, and Beatty
glances at the address and takes the wheel of the fire engine.
They arrive at their destination, and Montag sees that it is his
Mildred’s refusal to talk about Clarisse because she is dead
indicates her denial of death, a denial that characterizes society
as a whole. This denial is related to the widespread ignorance of
history and fear of books, because history and books connect
readers to the dead. In contrast, Montag feels a kind of wonder
that the books written by dead people somehow remind him of
Clarisse. He openly accepts and ponders death, telling Faber
that his wife is dying and that a friend of his is already dead,
along with someone who might have been a friend (meaning
the old woman). Mildred still does not see any possible
advantage in reading and is angered by the danger Montag
puts her in, asking if she is not more important than a Bible.
Montag hopes that reading will help him understand the
mistakes that have led the world into two atomic wars since
1990 and that have made the rest of the world hate his country
for its narcissistic hedonism.Faber becomes a more important
character in this section. Faber may have planted the seed of
Montag’s inner revolution the year before in the park, when he
told the fireman that he does not talk about things but rather the
meanings of things, and therefore he knows he is alive. This theme
of deeper meanings being necessary for life is central to the book.
And although Montag knew he had a book in his pocket, Faber
gave him his address anyway, allowing Montag to choose whether
to befriend him or turn him in. When Montag visits Faber, he tells
the professor that he just wants someone to listen to him talk until
he starts to make sense. He acknowledges his own ignorance,
which demonstrates his increasing self-awareness, and hopes to
learn from Faber.Although Faber is a strong moral voice in the novel,
his self-professed flaw of cowardice is also introduced in this section.
He is reluctant to risk helping Montag and finally agrees to do so only
by means of his audio transmitter, hiding behind this device while
Montag risks his life.Montag’s newfound resolve is also fragile at this
point in the novel. He expresses concern that Beatty will be able to
persuade him to return to his former life. Montag imagines Beatty
describing the burning pages of a book as black butterflies, an image
that recalls Montag’s own joy at the metamorphosis enacted by fire
in the opening paragraph of the book.An important symbol is expressed
in the title of this section, “The Sieve and the Sand,” which comes from
Montag’s childhood memory of trying to fill a sieve with sand on the
beach to get a dime from a mischievous cousin and crying at the futility
of the task. He compares this memory to his attempt to read the whole
Bible as quickly as possible on the subway in the hope that, if he reads
fast enough, some of the material will stay in his memo
Captain Beaty and Guy Montag
Guy Montag is a fireman who lives in a society in which books are illegal. His job is not to extinguish fires, but to light them. He burns books, and all the firemen wear the number "451" on their uniforms because that is the temperature at which books burn.
F-451 Journal #1
“A long time ago firemen put out fires” Discuss the loss of history.
Why is it important to know history?
Censorship and Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel about a
future society where information is censored
"Part One: The Hearth and the Salamander"
Pages 3 - 68
1. What isn't ever washed off completely?
2. How old is Montag?
3. TF Clarisse McClellan watches TV just as much as Mildred.
4. What two parts of Mildred had to be cleaned?
5. TF Montag was curious about the laughter and talking that went on inside Clarisse's house.
6. TF Last night's ordeal (the operation from the handymen) left Mildred feeling terrific the next morning.
7. What is Montag's annual income?
8. Where did Clarisse rub the Dandelion to determine if Montag were in love?
9. Who said, "No one has time any more for anyone else"?
10. The Mechanical Hound is a robot with an olfactory system that can be set for the smell of any man or animal. Tracking his prey like a real hound, the robot inevitably catches his victim and injects massive, fatal jolts of morphine or procaine. Why did the Hound threateningly extend its silver needle toward Guy Montag?
11. How did Montag's laugh sound today?
12. Why is Clarisse considered abnormal?
13. Who is taken to the asylum?
14. Why do the firemen do their work at night?
15. Where did Montag stash his latest book?
16. Explain the symbolic wall between Montag and Mildred.
17. With regard to Clarisse, how does Mildred typify the broken relationship between herself and Montag?
18. TF Mildred had removed Montag's hidden book, which was formerly underneath the pillow.
19. Who said, "'That's water under the bridge'"?
20. When Captain Beatty arrived at the Montag household, why did Mildred run to the parlor?
21. According to Beatty's account of the history of society, what four reading items did the [old] public let survive?
22. Contemporary society cannot afford to allow whom to get upset and stirred?
23. What would you say is the motto for contemporary culture?
24. What is the "itch" of which Beatty speaks?
25. What is the "scratch"?
26. TF After reading a dozen pages, Montag realized that the Captain was right, namely, that books con-fuse people, and if you just have fun, you'll be happy.
"Part Two: The Sieve and the Sand"
Pages 71 - 110
27. When was the last liberal arts college shut down?
28. TF Professor Faber thought Montag's call was some sort of trap.
29. Why did Faber's fear dissipate when Montag was standing outside his door?
30. What did Montag want from Faber?
31. TF Faber reminded Montag that people who are having fun are reluctant to become rebels.
32. How did Montag finally get Faber to consider really helping him?
33. TF The Queen Bee analogy underscored Faber's cowardice.
34. What two itmes were exchanged before Montag left the professor's house?
35. What is the volcano's mouth?
36. TF Montag pulled the plug on the living room fish bowl.
37. TF Faber objected to Montag's poetry reading.
38. Which lady was affected by the original intent of the poetry?
39. TF In the late hours of the night, Faber refused to console Montag for foolishly reading poetry to the poor, silly women.
40. Listening to Captain Beatty play his harp and neddle Montag had what effect upon Guy?
41. What interrupted the poker game?
42. Captain Beatty drove the Salamander to whose house?
"Part Three: Burning Bright"
Pages 113 - 165
43. TF Beatty had given Montag a hint that he was under suspicion by sending the Hound.
44. Who must have brought back the books from the garden?
45. Who said, "'When you're quite finished, you're under arrest'"?
46. What three people turned in an alarm against Montag?
47. What happened to Montag's green bullet, his electronic ear?
48. Montag shot one continuous pulse of liquid fire on whom?
49. TF Other Salamanders were in route to recover and destroy Mildred's four remaining books.
50. TF Faber went to the steaming lump of tar to see if Montag had really torched Beatty.
51. TF Montag "stumbled and fell" because the beetle "fired from an invisible rifle."
52. TF Sirens successfully followed Montag to Faber's house and destroyed the other audiocapsules.
53. What is Montag's plan?
54. How much money did Montag give Faber?
55. Because of its odor indexes, the new Mechanical Hound can remember how many scents?
56. Why did Montag want Faber to turn on the air-conditioning and sprinklers?
57. TF Faber "vanished in the Hound's muzzle."
58. Interpret: "Twenty million Montags running, soon, if the cameras caught him."
59. Why had the search veered inland?
60. Who died in Montag's place? - Due Friday 10/30
61. What did Granger mean by saying "'Welcome back from the dead'" to Montag?
62. When a person from Granger's crowd is stopped by a city person, why isn't there anything on his personhood to incriminate himself?
63. Yes or No: Might a different chapter live in a different town?
64. Millie's ineptitude with her hands was compared to whose wonderful carvings?
65. Granger stressed this one thought: "You're not important. You're not anything." Why did he espouse such an idea? - Due Wednesday 11/04
Censorship and Fahrenheit 451
Media Controlby Noam Chomsky