Character Awakening

Fahrenheit 451 is a novel with a future dystopia theme written by Ray Bradbury. A dystopia is an imaginary, unpleasant world where something has gone wrong. A dystopia can have many features such as technology, post-apocalypse and a character awakening. Fahrenheit 451 is a future dystopia as it has a character that awakens throughout the novel. Montag, the main character, awakens to the world he lives in and realizes that books aren’t as bad as they are made out to be and that the world is too distracted by technology to realize it. This is shown many times in the novel, first when Montag finds his wife, Mildred, overdosed on sleeping pills while listening to her ear thimble. Montag realizes that books aren’t as bad as they are said to be. Ray Bradbury was trying to make a point that technology is going to take over our lives.

In the novel, Fahrenheit 451, firemen burn houses that contain any books. Usually, when firemen are called to a house, the owner is escorted out of their home by the police. One night the firemen are called to a house and the owner is still in it. She made the empty room roar with accusations and shake down a fine dust of guilt that was sucked in their nostrils as they plunged about.” The presence of the owner makes Montag feel guilty as he will be burning more than objects but someone. The firemen try to get her out of the house but she refuses. “There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing. She was simple-minded.”  Montag realizes that there must be something so important about books that lead the woman to kill herself. This is enough to convince Montag to find out what’s so important about books and decides to read all of the books he has stashed in his air conditioning vent.

Clarisse was Montag’s neighbor that asked Montag questions that he would have never thought of. Montag initially thinks the things that Clarisse says are crazy and thinks it’s odd that she talks to him but it eventually starts to have an impact on him. “The rain feels good. I love to walk in it. “I don’t think I’d like that”, he said. You might if you tried. I never have. She licked her lips. Rain even tastes good”. At this point in the novel, Montag is still like the rest of the population, brainwashed by parlors and seashells. Montag later thinks about what Clarisse said and try’s to taste the rain. “And then, very slowly, as he walked, he tilted his head back in the rain, for just a few moments and opened his mouth.” This shows that Montag is starting to awaken and think about the world they live in. He is becoming more open minded and thinking about things that he hadn’t considered before, realizing that they are living in a world where there is no freedom. This idea is also strengthened when Montag later misses when he used to be able to talk to Clarisse, something he previously thought was weird. “She’s gone now, I think, dead. I can’t even remember her face. But she was different. How?how did she happen?” Beatty smiled. “Here or there, that’s bound to occur.” These quotes are all examples of Montag slowly awakening throughout the book.

Montag comes home from work one night to his wife in a coma after overdosing on sleeping pills. She had done this while listening to an “ear thimble” wich are like wireless headphones. “Mildred, he said at last. There are too many of us, he thought. There are billions of us and that’s too many. Nobody knows anyone. Strangers come and violate you. Strangers come and cut your heart out. Strangers come and take your blood. Good God, who were those men?” Montag comes to the realization that there are many people in the world and nobody talks with anyone anymore. Everyone is occupied by their parlors and ear thimbles and has no will to go outside or talk to anyone. This same technology that occupies people is what led Mildred to commit suicide. Montag also talks about how there are huge numbers of people in the world yet nobody talks to each other.

The hound is a mechanical dog that is used by the firemen to find houses and people that have books. “Montag touched the muzzle. The Hound growled. Montag jumped back. The hound half rose in its kennel and looked at him with green-blue neon light flickering in it’s suddenly activated eye-bulbs.” At this point in the novel, Montag touches the hound’s muzzle and it reacts by growling at him. The hound growled at Montag as it is trained to be aggressive towards people with books. Later in the novel, we find out that Montag did have books at his house. The hound was also used to make people fear having books as they knew they would be killed if the hound found them with books.

Parlors are full wall virtual reality rooms, made up of “walls” that people spend most of their spare time in. “It’s really fun. It’ll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed…We’re already doing without a few things to pay for the third wall. It was put in only two months ago, remember?”. Early in the novel, Montag thinks parlors are good and bought extra walls for them, but throughout the text, he awakens to the fact that parlors are used to distract people from what’s really happening in the world. “Clara, now, Clara, Begged Mildred, pulling her arm. Come on, let’s be cheery, you turn the family on now. Go ahead. Let’s laugh and be happy now, stop crying, we’ll have a party!” At this point in the novel, Montag reads poetry to Mildred’s friends after their attitude makes him angry. This ends up making Clara, one of Mildred’s friends, cry. Mildred tries to use the parlor to distract Clara from what’s really happening.

Fahrenheit 451 is a future dystopia as the main character, Montag, awakens to what’s really happening in the world. Montag awakens many times throughout the book including when he burns a woman alive, when he talks to Clarisse, when Mildred gets her stomach pumped, when the hound growls at him and when Clara uses the parlor to distract herself from the world. Montag awakens to the fact that books aren’t bad and that technology is taking over everyone’s lives. Ray Bradbury uses these characters awakening to warn us about technology taking over our lives. This is exactly what has happened since Farenheight 451 was published as everyone in the world today has a life based around phones and technology.

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