The main character, Montage, is a fireman that struggles between following society or going against it after he meets Claries, a preppy, meddlesomeness teenager. After he encounters her, he starts reading books and apprehending them and becomes to establish more questions regarding why people do certain things in his society.
One of the main questions is “Why is the society against its citizens having knowledge? Bradbury uses the symbolism of the books, the sieve and the sand, and fire to help the reader perceive the theme of knowledge versus ignorance.
The sole purpose of books in Fahrenheit ass’s society are to be burnt and they are compared to pigeons twice throughout the book. The first time they are compared to pigeons is at the beginning of the book when the firemen are burning a house and books, it is also when we are first introduced to Montage.
They are described as, “pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house” (3).
When it states, “pigeon-winged books died” it seems as if they have given up and are adequate about dying. Bradbury uses the symbolism of pigeons because they are thought of as pests and books are a pest in Fahrenheit ass’s society. This can also be interpreted as Montage gaining hope and realizing he is not happy and wants to change his life. However, as we read farther into the book, “The books leapt and danced like roasted birds, their wings ablaze with red and yellow feathers” (1 17).
When it says, “leapt and danced” it seems as if they have raised hopes and have almost broken the bars of freedom. He also recognizes that the only answer to his unhappiness is knowledge: which means reading books. Montage struggles with retaining knowledge in his mind and grasping the meaning of things. On Montage train ride to visit Faber he is trying to memorize the Bible that he stole from the old woman’s house they burnt the night prior. He is trying to retain all the information in a short amount of time because he will have to hand the book over to Beauty, the fire captain, by the end Of the day.
As he is trying to cram all the information in, he has a flashback of his childhood: “And the faster he poured, the faster it sifted through with a hot whispering”(78). The sieve and the sand are related to Montage’s situation because the brain is like a sieve and the rods and information is the sand. Montage can not grasp the information that he is reading and so it results in him losing patience and getting aggravated. Another example of his struggle is, “… If you read fast and read all, maybe some of the sand will stay in the sieve”(78).
It did not matter if he read the words fast, they would not stick in his mind. Because society has venerated ignorance and pushed knowledge off to the side, it is now harder for people to memorize things and will take a long time for them to do so. People in Fahrenheit 451 ‘s society think of fire as an escape route and that it washes away all that used to exist. The main purpose of fire, is to destroy books and any sense of knowledge. People in this society do not think anymore, they are superficial and do what they are told and expected without questions.
Beauty explains to Montage that, “Its real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences”(11 5). Considering that the beauty in fire is, “that it destroys responsibility and consequences”, it shows how corrupt their society is. In which, an easy way to forget about something and destroy something is just to burn it. Another form Of symbolism with fire is when Beauty explains the background of firemen to Montage and how they originated. He also explains why it is important to have firemen.
The following night Beauty, Montage, and the remainder of the firemen burnt an old lady house, with her in it. Montage is feeling a sense of guilt and sadness and Beauty says, “Let’s not quibble over individuals with memoriam. Forget them. Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean”(60). Not only is it books that they are getting rid of, it is human life too. Beauty explains that we should get on with life and leave the past behind us, even if that means forgetting about someone that you burned alive the night before.
Fahrenheit 451 ‘s theme of ignorance versus knowledge is delineated through symbols like fire, books, and the sieve and the sand. Their society is filled with a considerably large amount of ignorance and not enough knowledge. It is also presumably a vision of what our future will look like. In order for us to avoid this unhappy realization we need to think for ourselves and not let anyone take over our life and tell us what to do. Bradbury uses Fahrenheit 451 as a threat to show us what life will be like if we let technology take over or lives and get rid of books and knowledge all together.
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