Fahrenheit 451: From Ignorance to Enlightenment
Montag’s Journey: A Fireman’s Revelation in Fahrenheit 451
When someone tries to fix one thing, another thing can get ruined. In the science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, one individual attempts to change society’s perspective on the idea of censoring books. This was an action that turned into a disaster. In the story, a fireman named Guy Montag can’t stand going to work every day to burn books. He decided to quit his job, read many books, and share his knowledge with the society he lives in. The social order Bradbury creates in this novel is one that depends on technology and materialistic items, but the citizens cannot realize that the importance of thought, peace, and happiness is what they really need in their daily lives.
At some point in the book, Montag begins to understand that books provide a source of knowledge that he was denied. On page 49, Montag starts looking back on everything he’s done and starts feeling remorseful and possibly a little guilty. In the book, Bradbury states, ‘Last night, I thought about all the kerosene I’ve used in the past ten years. And I thought about books. And for the first time, I realized that a man was behind each one of the books. A man had to think them up. A man had to take a long time to put them down on paper. And I’d never even thought that thought before.” This information illustrates the fact that Montag is starting to realize that his society may not be as perfect as it seems, and he never thought about it until now.
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Defying Censorship: Montag’s Challenge in Fahrenheit 451
Although he is a fireman, Montag questions their role in society as judges of other people. Guy Montag first enjoys his job. Montag’s father and grandfather were both firefighters, and he seemed pleased to continue the family tradition. But then everything shifts when he discovers Clarisse. She made him question whether he was happy or not.” ‘Are you happy?’ she said. ‘Am I what?’ he cried. But she was running in the moonlight. Her front door shut gently.” This makes Montag realize that his life is a metaphor for the society he lives in, which is empty and limited. He recognizes that he is destroying the foundations of cognition and human understanding. Montag is bored with his job and begins stealing books that are supposed to be burned.
Montag knows that the books are somehow unlawful but chooses to try and spread the knowledge. Montag takes a significant risk when he takes out all the books he’s kept hidden and shows them to Mildred. Even knowing that having and keeping the books could put a strain on their marriage and lead to consequences, Montag does it hoping to change Mildred’s perspective on books. His end goal is possibly to make her see society the way he does now.
Bradbury, R. (1953). Fahrenheit 451. Ballantine Books.