Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
Conflicts • An external conflict between Montag, who rejects book burning, and the fire captain, who defends it • Montag’s internal conflict between accepting the new world—one of violence and conformity—and wanting to return to the way things were in the past—gentler, with room for different ideas
Bradbury’s Satire • Satire: The use of irony/sarcasm/ridicule to criticize faults • Some societal faults Bradbury satirizes in F 451: – Technology – Mass media – Organized sports – High-speed automobiles
Other important terms • Dystopia: an imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad, as from oppression and/or terror. • Censorship: the suppression of what is thought to be dangerous or offensive.
Symbols • The numbers 451: the temperature at which paper will burn • Fire: seen as a destructive force in the beginning and a way to be warm in the end. • The mechanical hound: symbolizes destructive technology that is not easily destroyed. Demonstrates why people are better than machines to Bradbury
• The salamander: represents the destructive forces of fire. Mythological lizard born from the fire. Name of the fire trucks that carry kerosene not water. • The phoenix: in this myth, fire is a source of renewal/rebirth—mythological bird burns and rises out of the ashes. Contrast to the salamander. The symbol of a Phoenix is used throughout the novel. uniforms and • Beatty drives a Phoenix car. Montag, after
Themes • Life is meaningless in a controlled society in which everyone is alike and imagination is repressed • Technology can isolate people and inhibit the sharing of thoughts, ideas, and emotions. • Without knowledge, a civilization dies or kills itself
Connection to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”
Plato’s cave • Prisoners are there since childhood; it is all they know • They can only see shadows, and the images are “real” to them • The people are chained, they cannot leave or move • Fire is a source of light behind them, it casts the shadows
Montag’s cave • His grandfather and father were firemen, it is expected of him. • His world of burning is all he knows • What are his chains? Mildred, Beatty, and the media try to hold him back • Fire is at 1 st a source of pleasure and destruction. It casts the shadows of Montag’s “happiness. ”
If a prisoner is released… He will have an instructor to guide him. Other prisoners will think he is crazy, and want to harm him.
When Montag is released… He has Clarisse and Faber to guide him. Mildred and Beatty think he is crazy, and want to harm him.
Other important similarities • Plato refers to the intense confusion of the released prisoner • Plato mentions the use of reflection when the prisoner is outside the cave. He will see himself and objects first through reflection, then he can see the true realities. • Montag spends most of the novel in a state of confusion • Bradbury mentions mirrors often as a symbol. Clarisse reflects Montag’s reality, then Granger says they will build a mirror factory to rebuild society.
What is real? • Plato says reality is that we are prisoners, and we must seek enlightenment through searching. • We should not believe our eyes or the physical world, because they can be wrong. • What does Bradbury say? What is his message or theme about reality?
Historical Context • Book burnings of the Nazi regime • Stalin’s suppression of authors and books in the Soviet Union • The consequences of an explosion of a nuclear weapon (atom bomb) • Censorship in the Mc. Carthy era
Book Burning • Adolf Hitler in Germany and Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union had used book-burning demonstrations to rally supporters and intimidate those with opposing views. • Authors had been suppressed through state-directed writers' organizations. • Persistent writers with challenging views were thrown into jails or exiled.
Nazi Book Burning
Literary Devices Review! • “I Remember the newspaper dying like huge moths. ” • Montag discovers that the house he is about to burn is his own. • “Denham’s Dandy Dental Detergent, Denham’s Dentifrice…” • Job of firemen in Montag’s society
Study for your test! • • • Literary devices General plot Symbolism Characterization Satire Themes Historical connection Dystopia/censorship Connections to “Allegory of the Cave”