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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fahrenheit 451 Passage Analysis

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This passage belongs to Fahrenheit 451. It occurs in the first part of the book, The Hearth and the Salamander, and it is the last conversation between two crucial characters in the novel Clarisse McClellan and Guy Montag. The author, Ray Bradbury, is trying to criticise modern society through the words of Clarisse by using a serious tone about what he says. So as to make an emphasis in the intention of criticism, the author establishes a monologue in which Clarisse shows her negative opinion towards modern society. As she speaks she uses a serious tone, short sentences and colloquial words, consequently, this effect is created by the author in this part of the book.


In this extract, Ray Bradbury criticises modern society in various aspects. First of all, the lack of communication is essential, and he relates it to the fact that in those days people weren’t allowed to ask any questions or discuss between each other. “But I don’t think it is social to get a bunch of people together and don’t let them talk, do you?” “…we never ask questions, or at least most don’t; they just run the answers at you…” The lack of communication also deals with the fact that Clarisse was considered to be abnormal because she didn’t have any friends, because she was different and she thought different from all the rest. “I’m antisocial, they say. I don’t mix. It’s so strange. I’m very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn’t it?” Clarisse seemed to be from the past because of her thoughts, which were opposite to what everyone believed, and even Montag was very surprised about her way of thinking. He isn’t able to give his opinion about what Clarisse says because he doesn’t have the knowledge, he just listens to her. Although the lack of communication is clearly shown in this passage, it can also be seen in the book when Montag talks with his wife Mildred, because their conversations are extremely superficial.


Another aspect Bradbury mentions in the extract about this modern society is violence. “Six of my friends have been shot in the last year alone. Ten of them died in car wrecks…My uncle says his grandfather remembered when children didn’t kill each other.” Violence predominates in teenagers, because of their lack of education, which is other aspect Bradbury criticises in the passage. The importance of doing things fast and at high speeds, made people be exposed to car accidents, and actually that was the first reason of deaths. Furthermore, the recreational activities such as Fun Parks also fomented violence. Leisure activities in those days where smashing cars, breaking windows, bulling people, and these activities were what teenagers used to do in their free-time, instead of thinking and questioning about life, as Clarisse did. The relation between violence and the lack of education is shown because teenagers only had to practise sports at school, they weren’t taught history or maths, just sports. Bradbury criticises through this the fact that some colleges tend to give scholarships to some students just because they are good athletes, not because of their intellectual capacity. “They run us so rugged by the end of the day we can’t do anything but go to bed or head for a Fun Park to bully people around, break windowpanes in the Window Smasher place or wreck cars in the Car Wrecker”. By the end of the day, teenagers couldn’t think when they arrived home, they couldn’t think about life, they just went to bed because of their tiredness.


Clarisse McClellan is an essential character in the novel because of the influence she makes in Montag. She is an outcast in this society, and also her family, but she doesn’t feel it that way, she feels that everyone is wrong and she is right. She questions everything and sees everything different from the rest. Her influence in Montag is essential because she opens Guy’s mind and makes him realise that society was wrong, that books were for people to read, not to burn. She makes Montag become a developing character, she makes him become an outcast too.


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In this extract of Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury is clearly against the society. He shows his negative opinion towards the attitudes of people and what they became because of their ways of thinking. But also, he is criticising those who censure books, abbreviate and resume. In the book, he shows this through the burning of books, which would be censorship. Not letting people express themselves and “digesting” things for them, makes them be as the people in this society, not capable of thinking. So, Ray Bradbury wants to warn us and to make the audience be aware of the negative consequences that have been developed in this society so that they don’t happen in real life, unfortunately they are already happening.


Fahrenheit 451


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