2016 Exam Paper, Question 7

Analyse how one or more ideas in the text served as a warning to readers

In the novel Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury, the character Montag progressively realises that technology has taken over people’s lives to warn readers that the same could happen to us. There are many times in the novel where Montag realises that technology has taken over people’s lives including, when Mildred is influenced to commit suicide from her ear thimble, when Clara uses the parlor to distract herself from what’s really happening in the world and when Clarese convinces Montag to drinking rain.

A dystopia is an imaginary place that is unpleasant. Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopia that is set in the future where books are illegal and firemen burn illegal books instead of putting out fires. In this future, there are things called “parlors” which are a virtual reality room that people spend their spare time in. These virtual reality rooms are also sometimes called “family”.

Montag first realised that technology was taking over people’s lives when he came home after work, and found his wife overdosed on sleeping pills while listening to her “seashell”. “The small crystal bottle of sleeping-tablets which earlier today had been filled with thirty capsules and which now lay uncapped and empty”. Montag came to the realisation that parlors and other technology that caused Mildred to commit suicide are taking over their lives. This is shown when Montag says “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”. Montag releases from this that nobody spends any time socialising anymore, but spends it in the parlor. This serves as a warning to not let technology take over our lives.

Montag further realises that technology was taking over people’s lives when Mildred’s friend, Clara, uses the parlor as a way to escape her emotions. When Montag gets angry at Clara’s stubbornness, he reads her a poem from an illegal book. This upsets Clara and to comfort her, Mildred suggests she turns on the parlor. “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!”. Montag realises that parlors are taking over their lives when Mildred tries to get Clara to use the parlor to distract her from the poem. This serves as a warning to us, to not let technology distract us from what is really happening in the world.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hi Tom,

    This is excellent preparation for the exam. It’s very strong in a number of key areas – you address the question with clarity, you structure your answer with precision and you have selected excellent and cogent quotations.

    I absolutely LOVE your first sentence.

    What it now needs is an expansion of what the message (warning) Ray Bradbury is trying to get across to us is. This means that you have to express your full understanding of that: He is saying that technology in this society has alienated everyone from their own critical minds. They have become passive receivers of stimuli without criticism and as a result society has become corrupted and is about to ensure its own destruction.

    Does this make sense to you?



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