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Fahrenheit 451(Critical Think) Essay, Research Paper

Critical Montag

Guy Montag is a fireman who is paid to burn books in the novel Fahrenheit 451, written by Bradbury, Ray. The setting of the novel is sometime in the future when reading and owning books is outlawed. In the beginning of the novel Bradbury portrays Montag as an immature thinker, who loves his job of burning books. In the opening scene Bradbury uses descriptive context of how Montag is handling a fire. This shows the reader how much Montag enjoys his job. Greenfield said, a person s moral outlook, their understanding of their obligations and entitlements and interests in life, and their notions of how they should be treated are more and more determined by what they now see themselves as representing rather than by their own individual instincts and tastes (Green 80). This statement best describes Montag s love for his job in the beginning of the novel. Montag sees himself as representing the fire department instead of being an individual who works as a fireman. Montag interacts with many characters in the novel that help influence him to seek the meaning in books and to become an individual who thinks critically. Such as Clarisse, an archetypal hippie or flower child, the old lady, who defies the firemen by pouring kerosene over her books and her own body before striking a match, (Johnson 86) and Faber an old intellect Montag met in a park a year before. Clarisse McClellan is a young girl of 17 that introduces Montag to the world s

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potential beauty and meaning with her gentle innocence and curiosity. She is an outcast from society because of her odd habits, but she and her family are genuinely happy with themselves and each other. Bradbury introduces Clarisse in the beginning of the novel while Montag is walking home from work. Montag feels a sense of togetherness with Clarisse and takes a liking to her. She questions him about his life and job. Before ending the scene, Clarisse asks Montag if he is happy and then before he can answer, she is gone. For the next seven days Clarisse walks Montag to the corner. In one conversation Clarisse asks Montag why he has no daughters like her. He replies that his

wife just never wanted children. In another conversation between Clarisse and Montag, Clarisse brushes a dandelion under her chin and says it means she is in love when the pollen rubs off on her. She rubs it under his chin, but no pollen rubs off.

Montag begins to analyze and synthesize their conversations. He begins questioning himself and the people around him. Montag starts to connect what people are saying to him and what people in the novel are doing. A good example of Montag analyzing his job is when he questions Beatty, asking if firemen have always started fires instead of fighting fires. Montag also begins to analyze his marriage with Mildred. He does not know if he is truly happy with her. There is a part in the novel where Montag thinks about if Mildred overdosed again and died. He wonders if he would cry, and realizes that he wouldn t cry over her death. He connects this thought and what his reaction would be and begins to cry. Another example of Montag analyzing his happiness is when he questions Mildred about the first time the two of them met. She

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could not remember because she is to brain washed by her family or her televisions. Montag is angered by Mildred s unwillingness to remember.

Bradbury uses the scene with the old lady to indicate to the reader that Montag is beginning his transition from immature thinking to thinking critically. This scene is the turn point in the novel. The firemen receive an alarm that suspects an attic to have books in it. When the men arrive, the lady refuses to leave her books behind to burn. Montag pleads with her to leave, but she refuses and immolates herself (Slusser 53).

Montag uses all the critical thinking steps in this scene. First he analyzes the situation by breaking it down into parts. The lady didn t want to leave. She would rather die with her books then live on. Second, Montag starts to interpret what he has broken down. Why would she want to die with her books? Do books have that much worth? Then he starts to connect the parts and their meanings. He begins to realize that books must have life in them, and that all this time he is burning people s ideas and thoughts. Montag finally tries to evaluate or find the worth of books.

Montag seeks to find more meaning and value in books. Montag goes to see Faber. Montag met Faber in the park one day a year previous to the books opening. He still possesses a few precious books and aches to have more. He readily admits that the current state of things is due to cowardice of people like himself who would not speak out against the book burning when they still could have stopped it. He berates himself for being a coward who hides behind the audio transmitter device he has designed, and lets Montag take all the risks, but is capable of acts that require great courage and place him in considerable danger.

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Faber tells Montag that books themselves are not what is missing from his life, but what used to be in books, which could be but is not in the current media. Faber tells Montag that what is needed is quality of information, leisure to digest it, and the freedom to act on what has been learned. These three things will help Montag to find meaning and value in the books he reads.

The novel, Fahrenheit 451 is an excellent work of literature. Mogen, David put it best when he said, This is one of Bradbury s two science-fiction novels from the early fifties that seem destined to survive as his best-known and most influential creations, the most sustained expressions of his essentially lyrically treatment of science-fiction conventions (Mogen 105). Bradbury uses different types of literary works such as

dialogue, poetry, descriptions, and foreshadowing in the novel. Bradbury lets the reader feel how Montag feels and helps the reader to think critically about what is going on in the novel. Uncovering the pattern of meaning is most important in dealing with Bradbury s work (Slusser 60). Montag uses the four critical thinking processes many times throughout the novel. In many scenes Montag uses more than one thinking process to help him escape from danger. If Montag had not changed his thinking process in the novel, he would have been doomed. His thought process in the beginning of the novel would not have gotten him around some of the dangers he is faced with in the novel.

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Works Cited

Greenfield, Meg. Kicking Away Your Freedom. America Now. Ed. Atwan, Robert.

3rd ed. Bedford/St. Martin s, 1999. 79-82.

Johnson, Wayne L. Ray Bradbury. Ungar, 1980. 173p bibl index 79-4825.

Mogen, David. Ray Bradbury. Twayne, a div. of G.K. Hall, 1986. 186p ill.

Slusser, George Edgar. The Bradbury Chronicles. San Bernardino: The Borgo Press div. of Lynwyck Realty and Investment Company, Inc. 1st ed. April 1977: 52- 61.


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