Fahrenheit 451

1. Discuss the gradual development of Montag throughout the plot. Compare and contrast him to Beatty.

1. Discuss the gradual development of Montag throughout the plot. Compare and contrast him to Beatty.

2. Make a list of the people in the novel who contribute to Montag's growing self-awareness and explain what they teach him.

3. Explain the relationship of the title of the book to its meaning.

4. Explain some of the futuristic (fantastic) technological advances seen in the novel.

5. Describe Mildred and contrast her to Montag and Clarisse.

6. What does the old lady represent to Montag and how does she affect him?

7. Is Beatty hypocritical? Fully explain your answer.

8. What do you consider to be the most important theme of the novel? Why? How is it developed?

9. Explain the images of death, suicide, and murder in the novel. What are their relationships to the totalitarian society?

10. Fully explain the image of fire/burning and how it is repeatedly used in the novel.

11. Fully describe the Mechanical Hound and how it is used? Do you feel it is effective? Why?

12. How does Bradbury build suspense in the novel?

13. Why is the novel a tragedy? What one small ray of hope is there at the end?

14. Explain the meaning of each of the three titles given to the parts of the book.

15. Explain the importance of the phoenix symbol to the novel.

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1) In "Fahrenheit 451" the protagonist is Montag, and the antagonist is Beatty. The beginning of the novel shows that the two men are alike because they both believe in what they do. They are both firemen, and they both are good at their jobs. Beatty has risen in the ranks to a command commission, and Montag is working his way up the ladder, so to speak. As the novel continues, their paths diverge and they become opposites in their ideology. The two men still believe in what they stand for and neither man wants to back down. Both men stand for what they believe to be right and Beatty uses quotes from literature to stand against Montag's belief that literature is necessary. In the end Montag defeats his antagonist.

"It is Beatty who explains the history of firefighting in the story and who fully embraces its justification, ironically quoting from literature to support his arguments. Beatty leads Montag and other firefighters to bookburnings."

"As a fireman, Montag's job is not to put out fires but to start them, in order to burn books that are illegally harbored by wayward citizens. Montag is at first unquestioning. He takes pride in his work, which is carefully described in the opening scenes of the novel. He becomes curious, however, after meeting and talking to his young neighbor, Clarisse McClellan. Montag begins to question the values of his society."



10) Fire

Fire is an interesting symbol in Fahrenheit 451 because it symbolizes two different things. Through the firemen, who burn books and wear the number “451” on their helmets, fire symbolizes destruction. (451°F is the temperature at which paper and books burn.) Yet at the same time, Clarisse reminds Montag of candle-light, and so fire, when controlled, symbolizes the flickering of self-awareness and knowledge.



6) In this section, Montag begins to feel alienated from the other firemen. He realizes suddenly that all the other firemen look exactly like him, with their uniforms, physiques, and grafted-on, sooty smiles. This is simply a physical manifestation of the fact that his society demands that everyone think and act the same. He used to bet with the other firemen on games of releasing animals for the Hound to catch and kill, but now he just lies in his bunk upstairs and listens every night. He begins to question things no other fireman would ever think of, such as why alarms always come in at night, and whether this is simply because fire is prettier then. This explanation makes perfect sense in a society as caught up in superficial aesthetics as Montag’s and is in keeping with the novel’s portrayal of book burning as a kind of ghoulish entertainment. When the firemen find the old woman still in her house at the scene of the burning, Montag shows a capacity for empathy and compassion that is uncommon in his society. First, he feels highly uncomfortable, since he usually only has to deal with the lifeless books, without human emotions getting involved. Then, though the other men also seem uncomfortable and try to compensate for her silently accusing presence with increased activity and talking, Montag tries to convince her to leave, to save her life.



3) What’s Up With the Title?

The 1991 Ballentine edition of this book made the meaning of the title pretty obvious with an addendum to the title: "Fahrenheit 451…the temperature at which books burn." This is followed shortly by: "The novel of firemen who are paid to set books ablaze." That pretty much covers it.



5)'The Hearth and the Salamander', the first of three parts comprising Fahrenheit 451, chronicles Montag's realization that he is unhappy and unfulfilled and marks the beginning of his quest to change his life. In this section, Bradbury advances the larger idea that without the freedom to seek truth, it is impossible to find true fulfillment. This concept is expressed through the clear contrast between the three major characters we meet in this section. Millie is unaware of and uninterested in her capacity for original thought. She is so miserable that she escapes from reality by constantly immersing herself in her seashell radio, three wall parlor room television, and an addiction to sleeping pills. Sadly, Millie doesn't even recognize her own dissatisfaction and refuses to admit she attempted suicide.

In contrast, Clarisse is truly, perfectly content with her life. She is curious about the world, and takes great notice of nature, social constructs and the behavior of people around her. Clarisse comes from a family where people sit around and talk at great length, a concept Montag finds staggering. Unfortunately, Clarisse falls victim to a speeding car, one of the aspects of society she despises so much.

Finally, Montag represents the middle ground between these two extremes. Although he once thought he was happy, Montag realizes society is not perfect, as many believe it to be. Through his friendship with Clarisse, Montag discovers a sense of curiosity and thirst for knowledge that he never knew. First through Clarisse and then through books, Montag starts on a road to freedom and happiness.



15) The Phoenix

After the bombing of the city, Granger compares mankind to a phoenix that burns itself up and then rises out of its ashes over and over again. Man’s advantage is his ability to recognize when he has made a mistake, so that eventually he will learn not to make that mistake anymore. Remembering the mistakes of the past is the task Granger and his group have set for themselves. They believe that individuals are not as important as the collective mass of culture and history. The symbol of the phoenix’s rebirth refers not only to the cyclical nature of history and the collective rebirth of humankind but also to Montag’s spiritual resurrection.



14) "The Hearth and the Salamander" refers to Montag's job (the salamander) and his home (hearth--which interestingly enough, historically, was the center of the home at the fire). Referring to his fireman's uniform:

...she seemed hypnotized by the salamander on this arm and the phoenix disc on his chest....

The significance is that his job enables him to live, afford a home and all that comes with it. However, whereas culturally the hearth symbolizes the heart of the home and the comfort of family, Montag does not have this. As time goes on, he is less connected not only to the job, but also from his wife.

"The Sieve and the Sand" refers to Montag's inability to absorb the meaning of the words in the books he is trying to rapidly read before having to return them; in one specific case, he is reading the Bible. He is reminded of a childhood memory of trying to fill a sieve with sand, an impossible task—which is what it is like for him to rush through reading the words when he cannot make sense of them or recall what he has read.

Figuratively, "Burning Bright" refers to Montag's passion to read and learn once he throws off the shackles of society's control with regard to reading, and free thought and expression. Literally, it can refer to society at the end when the bombing begins and the buildings are burning, ending the way the culture has been controlled up until the end of the book.



11) The mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the fire house. The dim light of one in the morning, the moonlight from the open sky framed through the great window, touched here and there on the brass and copper and the steel of the faintly trembling beast. Light flickered on bits of ruby glass and on sensitive capillary hairs in the nylon-brushed nostrils of the creature that quivered gently, its eight legs spidered under it on rubber padded paws.

Nights when things got dull, which was every night, the men slid down the brass poles, and set the ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the hound and let loose rats in the fire house areaway. Three seconds later the game was done, the rat caught half across the areaway, gripped in gentle paws while a four-inch hollow steel needle plunged down from the proboscis of the hound to inject massive jolts of morphine or procaine.

Fahrenheit 451


A reincarnation of the vengeful Furies from Greek mythology and the epitome of modern perverted science, the Mechanical Hound is a slick electronic hit man formed of copper wire and storage batteries and smelling of blue electricity. He is an omnipresent menace capable of storing "so many amino acids, so much sulphur, so much butterfat and alkaline" that he can inexorably trail the odor index of ten thousand victims to their doom. From his snout projects a "four-inch hollow steel needle," which can inject enough morphine or procaine to quell a rat, cat, or chicken within three seconds. Sniffing its quarry with "sensitive capillary hairs in the Nylon-brushed nostrils," the Hound growls and then scuttles silently toward its prey on eight rubber-padded feet. Sighting through the "green-blue neon light" of its multifaceted eyes, the Hound is masterminded by a central command for rapid deployment and near perfect accuracy.

The Hound represents government control and manipulation of technology. Originally, dogs served as the rescuers for firemen. They were given the job of sniffing out the injured or weak. However, in this dystopia, the Hound has been made into a watchdog of society. Like the Furies, the Mechanical Hound has been programmed (by the government) to avenge and punish citizens who break society's rules. The ones who are not loyal to the rules must especially be punished, and the Hound serves as the enforcer of these rules.


As for the rest, there are a variety of answers to each of these questions from a while back at the link I've provided below. This is another link to the answer section for Fahrenheit 451 on gradesaver.