451 Degrees Fahrenheit – People Live in a Dystopia

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There are meetings in life that change the point of view of someone without realizing it. In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, people live in a dystopia where books are not allowed. However, it doesn’t stop everyone from reading. Montag, the protagonist, for a living, burns the books of the people who read them or just keep them. The society where he lives is perfect and normal in his eyes. Montag meets different people, Clarisse, Mrs. Blake and Faber who help him change his perspective throughout the story.

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Montag meets a young woman, Clarisse, who affected him positively. Montag, one evening, walked out of the fire station covered in kerosene. However, this day, he did not smell it; he smelled perfume. He turned a corner and saw his new neighbor, Clarisse. She was almost seventeen years old. After he met her, she started asking questions about the past and the present. Although people are normally afraid of firemen, Clarisse knew she shouldn’t be afraid of Montag. He then noticed that she was different from everyone and said she is an odd one. When Montag came home, he wondered “how many people [do you know] that reflect [their] own light to you” (8). After his meeting with Clarisse, he remembered a meeting with an old man in the park, Faber whom he came back to after Clarisse’s death. After having met, Clarisse and Montag talked almost every day about books and the past. When they met again, she asked “Are you happy?” (7). That question left Montag in tears. He cried because inside of him, he knew he wasn’t. After Clarisse asked him that question, he began to question many things. For example, he wondered if his life was perfect after all. He tried to analyze it. When he got home, the house screamed and it was dark. He then saw a bottle of sleeping pills, empty on the floor. He knew what might have happened and he went in the other room to find his dead wife, Millie, on the floor. He understood that Millie wasn’t happy in this society and that he wasn’t either.

Another day, Clarisse made him rub a dandelion on his chin. If it rubbed off, it meant that person was in love. Montag’s flower never rubbed off. He got offended and mad quickly about that old superstition. He tried to convince her that he was in love when he actually wasn’t. This situation got Montag to wonder if he was really in love with his wife. He realized thanks to Clarisse that he wasn’t truly happy and he wasn’t really in love. One day, he and Beatty, the leader of the firemen, went to a home to burn the books and the house. Mrs. Blake, the owner of the house didn’t want to leave her books so she burned with them. After that meeting, everything that he thought was right, he knew it was wrong. He knew they shouldn’t have left the old lady burning. If he hadn’t met Clarisse, he would have never questioned those sort of things, he didn’t care before. He said “It was a pleasure to burn” (1). He loved his horrible job. It made his meeting with Clarisse a positive situation. He started disobeying Beatty because he knew what he was doing was wrong. He read to have knowledge and to learn. He eventually ran away from that dystopia and joined Granger to rebuild a better society. Even if he realized it a few weeks later, Montag was affected by Clarisse from the beginning. Although Clarisse changed him for the better, he always knew he lived in a terrible society.

       Montag meets an old lady, Mrs. Blake, who affected him both negatively and positively. One day, the alarm in the firehouse blared like it does every day when people discover a house where books are hidden. Montag and Beatty drove to the house where the books were. They arrived soon afterward at Mrs. Blake’s house and demanded her to leave her house so that they can burn it. The firemen poured down kerosene throughout her house. Some firemen bumped on the shelf and a book landed on Montag’s hands. He started to read a line and he closed and dropped the book. However, another one flew in his hands and he decided to steal it. When they were done filling the house with kerosene, Montag tried to get the old woman out of her home. Beatty started counting to 10 so when he hit it, he would burn the house. Mrs. Blake stopped Beatty and showed him that she had a match in her hands. Everyone except Montag backed up because they were afraid she would burn the house with them. He still had faith that he could prevent her from making that decision. The old lady told him to go because “[she] [wants] to stay here” (36). Even though she told Montag to “go on” (37), he still felt like he could change her mind and he felt “the hidden book pound like a heart against his chest” (37). He eventually backed away from her and the house.

The old lady lit her own house and “Montag gasped” (37). After this event, Montag was feeling down. He kept thinking about that moment. When he got home, he hid the book under his pillow and he told Mildred, his wife, he was sick. Millie did not understand why he was upset, she thought it was normal that they had burned a person. This meeting with Mrs. Blake changed Montag. When he was “sick”, Beatty visited him. Beatty told him “every fireman, sooner or later, hits this” (51) and that after, it didn’t matter anymore. Montag didn’t agree, he didn’t know if he could come back from this. Montag knew that what the firemen were doing was wrong. He then, began reading the book he stole from the old lady’s house. He understood what he needed to do. This meeting made him go to Faber who eventually made him run away from this society with Granger to try to rebuild a better one. It makes his meeting with the old lady positive. The only thing that made that meeting negative is that Montag will have that weight of the old lady’s death on him to carry on throughout his life. Even though it wasn’t his fault, it will depend if he can forgive himself or not.

       Montag meets Faber who affected him positively. Montag remembered an old man he met at a park one day, a few years back. It was the first time he met a person with so much knowledge and he remembered that man when he met Clarisse because they were so alike. After Clarisse’s death, Montag needed a person he could talk to like a mentor. He immediately thought about the old man he had met in the park, Faber. Even if Beatty was his mentor, he couldn’t talk to him about books and saving the society because he was in charge, he was with the society. So Montag tracked Faber down to his house. He tried convincing him to be his mentor by tearing pages from a book because he knew that he cared for them. He succeeded. A while after, they had put a plan which was that they would spy on the firehouse and try to figure out a way to make the society better. To stay in contact with Montag, Faber gave him a seashell (listening device) so they could communicate while executing their plan. One night, Millie invited some friends and Montag wanted to read them a poem.

No matter how much Faber kept saying don’t do it, he still did. After, all Faber could say was “Fool, fool, oh God you silly fool…” (98). Faber thought the best way to play it was to remain unexposed. He thought Montag couldn’t win if he revealed himself. Faber wanted Montag to follow strictly the plan but that made him want even more to do what he believed in. After finishing reading that poem, Mrs. Phelps cried. His action lead Millie and her friends to tell Beatty that Montag had books and that he read them. Beatty forced Montag to burn down his own house and he did. Montag then killed Beatty and ran to see Faber. They established a meeting point where they would meet up. Montag eventually ran away with Granger. Faber was a great mentor even though things didn’t go exactly as he thought they would. He cared about Montag like he was his son, that is why he cared so much about him and his actions. If Montag had not met Faber in the park a few years earlier, he would have never come back to him and he would probably still be a fireman, burning wrong.

Montag was affected either negatively and positively or both by meeting Clarisse Mrs. Blake and Faber. He thought the society was perfect but he realized that it really wasn’t. In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Montag, the protagonist, was a perfectly normal fireman who burned books as a job. If Montag hadn’t met those people, he would probably have become exactly like Beatty, the captain. Luckily, he didn’t and ran away from that dystopia. He didn’t necessarily realize it, but sometimes meetings changed the point of view of someone without realizing it.

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451 Degrees Fahrenheit - People Live in a Dystopia. (2022, Sep 09). Retrieved February 2, 2023 , from

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