Fahrenheit 451: How Powerful Is Knowledge?

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 1:59:16 AM

Fahrenheit 451: How Powerful Is Knowledge?



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Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) and Fahrenheit 451 Comparison

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I talk the meaning of things. I sit here and know I'm alive. This statement, made by the character Faber, emphasizes the importance of critical thought. For Faber, considering the meaning of information—not just passively absorbing it—is what enables him to "know [he's] alive. The loud, flashy, and virtually meaningless TV shows in the world of Fahrenheit , are a prime example of media that does nothing more than "talk[ing] things. In this context, books themselves are merely objects, but they become powerful when readers use critical thought to explore the meaning of the information the books contain. Bradbury explicitly links the act of thinking and processing information with being alive. Consider this idea of aliveness in relation to Montag's wife Millie, who is constantly passively absorbing television and repeatedly attempts to end her own life.

When Montag tries to read aloud to her, Millie reacts with increasing alarm and violence, at which point she makes the above statement. Millie's statement encapsulates what Bradbury sees as part of the problem of passive entertainment like television: it creates the illusion of community and activity. Millie feels that she is engaging with other people when she is watching television, but in fact she is simply sitting alone in her living room.

The quote is also an example of irony. Millie's complaint that books "aren't people" is supposed to contrast with the human contact she feels when watching television. In fact, however, books are the product of human minds expressing themselves, and when you read you are making a connection with that mind over time and space. Live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask for no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. This statement is made by Granger, the leader of a group that memorizes books in order to pass the knowledge on to a future generation. Granger is speaking to Montag as they watch their city go up in flames. The first part of the statement implores the listener to see, experience, and learn about as much of the world as possible.

He likens the mass-produced world of television to a factory of false fantasies, and argues that exploring the real world brings greater fulfillment and discovery than factory-made entertainment. At the end of the passage, Granger concedes that "there never was such an animal" as security—knowledge may very well bring discomfort and danger, but there is no other way to live. Share Flipboard Email. Fahrenheit Study Guide. Jeffrey Somers. Literature Expert. Jeff Somers is an award-winning writer who has authored nine novels, over 40 short stories, and "Writing Without Rules," a non-fiction book about the business and craft of writing.

Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter. Updated August 30, You read and I look around, but there isn't anybody! If not, he promises to burn them. Montag hears the Hound outside the house, but tries to force Mildred to consider the books. She refuses, angry at being forced to think. Montag tells her that something is wrong with the world, that no one is paying attention to the bombers overhead that threaten nuclear war, and he suspects books might contain information that could help fix it. Mildred becomes angry, but soon gets distracted when her friend Mrs.

Bowles calls to arrange a television viewing party. He wants to ask Faber about books, but Faber hangs up on him. Faber, an old man, is suspicious and afraid. He initially refuses to help Montag in his quest for knowledge, so Montag begins to rip pages from the Bible, destroying the book. This act horrifies Faber and he finally agrees to help, giving Montag an earpiece so that Faber can guide him verbally from a distance.

Montag returns home and interrupts Mildred's viewing party, turning off the parlor wall screens. Mildred tells her friends that this is something firemen do once a year to remind everyone how terrible books and the past were. The party breaks up, and Faber insists that Montag burn the poetry book to avoid arrest. Montag buries the rest of his book collection and takes the bible to the firehouse, handing it to Beatty. Beatty informs him that he himself was once a book-lover, but he realized that none of the knowledge in books was of any real use. Beatty tells Montag that his wife and her friends reported him.

Mildred leaves the house in a daze and gets into a taxi without a word. Montag does as ordered and burns his own house down, but when Beatty discovers the earpiece and threatens to kill Faber, Montag burns him to death and attacks his fellow firemen. The Hound attacks him and injects tranquilizers into his leg before he can burn it as well. As he limps away he wonders if Beatty had wanted to die, and set up Montag to kill him. They see another Hound being released on television. Montag meets the drifters, who are led by a man named Granger. The Drifters are former intellectuals, and they have each memorized at least one book with the intention of carrying its knowledge into the future. As Montag studies with them, bombers fly overhead and drop nuclear bombs on the city.

The Drifters are far enough away to survive. The next day, Granger tells them about the legendary Phoenix that rose from the ashes, and muses that humans can do the same, except with the knowledge of their own mistakes to guide them. The group then begins walking towards the city to help rebuild society with their memorized wisdom. Share Flipboard Email. Fahrenheit Study Guide. Jeffrey Somers.

Literature Expert. Jeff Somers is an award-winning writer who has authored nine novels, over 40 short stories, and "Writing Without Rules," a non-fiction book about the business and craft of writing. Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter. Updated October 23,

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