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The Destruction of Written Material as Illustrated in Ray Bradbury’s, Fahrenheit 451

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Behind the fire

Fahrenheit 451 takes place in future in 24th century where people live in a society where reading is banned and it is illegal to own any type of book. And because the government bans books firmen no longer put out fires they start them by finding people that own books going to there house and burning their books and house. Fahrenheit 451 focuses on the main character which is Guy Montag. Guy Montag is a 30 year old man that live a decent life, he has a wife named Mildred has been married to for the past ten years, has a house and he loves his job as a firemen. Guy has been working as a fireman for the past ten years. Everyday Montag wake up with a smile on his face. Guy never take his time to think or question about things that he does or things that are going on around him. He is just a happy fellow. Until he meets Clarisse McClellan. Clarisse is a 17 year old that is unique from every other teenager because she enjoys doing thing the nobody likes to do like observe objects and have a conversation. Once Guy meets Clarisse he starts to think and do things he would’ve never done. Guy and Clarisse become friends and Clarisse later dies. Clarisse’s death impacts Guy’s life and does crazy things and even goes as far as stealing books and reading them and disobeying the law.

The first line of chapter one is “It was a pleasure to burn”. This line is very important because it shows that Guy Montag loved his job and he liked seeing books burn.Throughout chapter one “The Hearth and Salamander” there is a drastic change in Guy Montag. Guy changes the way he thinks and things he does in his everyday life. There is a third person narrator throughout the chapter and the narrator says things that Guy does or what he is thinking, and in chapter one the narrator talks about how Guy enjoys the smell of kerosene and enjoys watching books burn. In chapter one in page 2 it says “While books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning. Montag grinned the fierce grin of all men singed and driven back by flame.” This text proves that Guy is loving his job. Everything goes Guy’s way until he meets Clarisse. On that same day at night Guy is walking home and sees Clarisse walking. Clarisse and Guy meet for the first time and introduce themselves. Clarisse talks to Guy about things that not even an adult would talk about. Clarisse goes on and tells Guy that she once heard that she once heard that firemen use to put out fires and Guy laughs and Clarisse says, “You laugh when i haven’t been funny and you answer right off. You never stop to think what I’ve asked you.’’ This makes Guy think about things he has said which is one of the reasons Guy changes in the novel. As they are walking Clarisse talks about her family and how her uncle has been arrested for driving slowly and being a pedestrian. Before clarisse goes to her house she ask Guy if he is happy which keeps Guy awake thinking about what he has in life. In page seven it says “Then she seemed to remember something and came back to look at him with wonder and curiosity. “Are you happy?” she said. Am I what?” he cried. Later on in chapter one “The Hearth and Salamander” Clarisse and Guy talk more and Clarisse words and action have a big impact in Guy’s life. Some simple things that Clarisse does makes Guy wonder even about his marriage. For instances, Clarisse gets a dandelion and tells Guy to rub it under his chin and if a rubs off it will mean that you are in love. Clarisse’s dandelion rubs on her chin but Guy’s dandelion doesn’t which makes Guy irritated because he is married to Mildred for the past ten years. “What a shame she said. You’re not in love with anyone.” this makes Guy talk to Mildred about their marriage and how they meet. But to a surprise Mildred does not remember how they met ten years ago. As the chapter goes on and Clarisse dies Guy does things that are illegal. Mildred informs Guy that Clarisse has died because she was ran over by a car. This shocks Guy, later on Guy goes to work and has to go to a woman’s home because she has books. Once Guy arrives at the woman’s home she is ready to burn her books, but before she burns her books Guy got a book not knowing that it was the last copy of the bible. She burns her books but refuses to leave, Guy tries to convince the woman to leave. Captain Beatty Guy’s boss tell him to leave her. Hours later the woman is burned with her books and this makes Guy feel bad because he could of done something. “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.” this is the quote the woman says moments before she kills herself and burns her books. When Guy goes back home he talks to Mildred about the woman and says, “There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t just stay for nothing.” This shows that Guy wants to start to read because he wants to know why people can’t read books and why the government banned books. That is the start of his desire to read. The next day Guy does not want to go to work because he got a book and feels sick not physically but emotionally because of what happened the night before. Captain Beatty comes to Guy’s home uninvited and starts to tell Guy about the consequences about having a book and while Beatty is talking to Guy, Mildred starts to clean the bedroom. While cleans the bedroom she tries to get the pillow that is under Guy, but Guy does not want to give the pillow to Mildred because he has to book he stole from the women from yesterday. While Guy is talking to Captain Beatty Mildred finds the book, but does not tell Captain Beatty instead she ask Beatty what would happen if a firefighter had a book and Beatty responds by saying, “A natural error. Curiosity alone,’’ said Beatty. “We don’t get overanxious or mad. We let the fireman keep the book twenty-four hours. If he hasn’t burned it by then, we simply come burn it for him.” Later Beatty leaves and Mildred starts freaking out because she might lose everything lose everything, in the novel in page 65 it says, “He’ll come in,” said Mildred, “and burn us and the books!”. This text shows that Mildred is scary because they can be caught. And this is was the end of chapter one “The Hearth and the Salamander”. Chapter one is very important because it is the chapter where the reader can see that Guy has changed into a new and different person.

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“The Sieve and the Sand” that is the name of chapter two. In chapter two many things happen and Guy finally starts to take action. For instance Guy read the book he stole with Mildred. In page 67 of chapter two in “The Sieve and the Sand” it says, “They read the long afternoon through, while the cold November rain fell from the sky upon the quiet house” in another part of page 67 it also says, “The parlor was dead and Mildred kept peering in at it with a blank expression as Montag paced the floor and came back and squatted down and read a page as many as ten times, aloud’’. Guy wants to learn more about books and knows its illegal so in secret he contact a old english professor named Faber. In page 71 Guy contacts Faber, “Montag identified himself and was met with a lengthy silence. “Yes,Mr.Montag?” “Professor Faber, I have a rather odd question to ask. How many copies of the bible are left in this country?”. Guy later take it a step further when he goes to Faber’s home and shows him the bible so Faber wouldn’t think that he is lying. In page 81 Montag says, “This afternoon I thought that if it turned out that books were worthwhile, we might get a press and print some extra copies”. Once Faber and Guy get together they come up with the idea, that they should plant books on fireman home. In page 82 it says “Plant the books, turn in an alarm, and see the firemen’s houses burn, is that what you mean?’’. This is something that Guy wouldn’t do in the beginning of the novel instead he probably would have turned in Faber. After meeting with Faber Guy goes to his home only to find that Mildred is home with her friends talking about war. This wouldn’t have bothered Guy in the beginning but now it does. Guy tries to talk to them but, they don’t listen so he shows them the book and reads a poem called Dover Beach.. In page 94 Guy tries to read poem to Mildred’s friends, in page 94 it says, “Why don’t you just read us one of those poems from your little book.” Mrs.Phelps nodded “I think that’d be very interesting.” “That’s not right” wailed Mrs.Bowles”. This piece of evidence shows that Montag was going to read a book to Mildred’s friends. In page 106 it says, “At last Montag raised his eyes and turned. Beatty was watching his face. Something the matter, Montag?”. “Why,” said Montag slowly, “we’ve stopped in front of my house.” This text show that right after Guy reads the book to Mildred’s friends, Guy goes to work only to get an alarm that a house has been spotted in a person’s home and that person’s home is Guy’s home. That was the end of chapter two “The Sieve and the Sand” which is very important because this is the chapter where Guy recognizes what is happening and that everything that has been told to him is a lie. And because Guy now recognizes this lie he has been told he takes action by stealing a book and reading it.

The next and final chapter is chapter 3 “Burning Bright”. In chapter three Guy ends up in his house because he discovers that Mildred turned in the fire alarm and Guy now has to burn his books and his house. But Guy refuses to burn down his home instead he burns Captain beatty alive which in result of being burned he dies. A mechanical hound injects him with a needle of poison so he wouldn’t escape. Guy successfully runs away and in a matter of minutes becomes a criminal. In page 111 it says, “Was it my wife turned in the alarm?” Beatty nodded. “But her friends turned in an alarm earlier, that I let ride.” This text shows that Mildred and her friends turned the alarm so Guy won’t be able to have books. And in page 113 it says, “And then he was a shrieking blaze, a jumping, sprawling gibbering mannikin, no longer human or known, all writhing flame on the lawn as Montag shot one continuous pulse of liquid fire on him”. This text proves that Guy lit Beatty on fire and killed him. After this Guy and Faber runaway to a with people that have memorized books so that they can teach other people about books when they are ready to learn about literature. Guy memorizes the book his stole from the women that burn herself alive, and the book he stole was one of the last copies left of the bible. While Guy is safe in a place where reading isn’t illegal, there is a war going on and bombs are falling from the sky. The war is happening where Guy use to live. After this chapter was the end of Fahrenheit 451. At the end of Fahrenheit 451 Guy is a different person that he was when the novel began. In Chapter 3 Guy goes of with people to memorize books so they can later teach them to people. I don’t think Guy would of thought of doing this in the beginning of the novel.

Throughout the novel Guy Montag changes. At first Guy Montag is a man that loves the way he lives and doesn’t think about the things he does, he definitely does not think about what he actually does in his job and why he does it. Until he meet Clarisse, and that is when Guy starts to take action and thinks about what he has done those ten years working as a fireman. These thought that Guy has result in Guy stealing books so he can read them, killing his boss in a fire and escaping with a retired english professor so he can go and live with people in a place where reading is okay. After this the novel Fahrenheit 451 ends and Guy is a different person that he was in the beginning.

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