Importance of Change in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451
What is change? Webster's Dictionary, defines change
as to cause to become different; alter; transform; convert. Many things, people,
and world events are able to change. Years of peace may be shattered by one
act of terrorism. Technology changes how people interact and work in the
world. People also change. Many do not see any wrongdoing internally, and remain
the way they are. However, there might be outside factors that help them realize
what is wrong with them or the lifestyle they choose to take part in. According
to Preston Bradley, "I don't care how much a man may consider himself a failure,
I believe in him, for he can change the thing that is wrong in his life any time
he is ready and prepared to do it. Whenever he develops the desire, he can take
away from his life the thing that is defeating it. The capacity for reformation
and change lies within." Throughout Fahrenheit 451, Montag, a dedicated fireman
and book burner, sees pleasure and titillation from burning books and destroying
lifetimes of important ideas. When outside influences put confusion in him, he
begins a series of changes, eventually becoming a revolutionary in a society
where books are valued.
Many factors contribute to the changes found in Montag. One of the first
influences during the story is the exquisitely observant Clarisse McClellan. She
is different from all of the others in society who like to head for a Fun Park
to bully people around," or "break windowpanes in the Car Wrecker." She likes to
observe people, and she observes Montag, diagnosing him as a
"strange...fireman." He is "not like the others" because when she talks, he
looks at her, and when she said something about the moon, he looks at it.
Clarisse tells Montag that he is different from the other people. He has
something inside of him that makes him "put up with" her. Clarisse makes Montag
look at himself for the first time when she asks him, "Are you happy?" Montag
thinks that she is talking nonsense, but he realizes that he truly is not happy.
Something is missing from his life. Looking at his lifestyle, he found that the
"only thing that I [Montag] positively knew was gone was the books I'd [he'd]
burned in ten or twelve years." Clarisse helped Montag to start to think for
himself, instead of letting the society take over and make the decisions for him.
He begins his transformation from a dedicated fireman into a newborn, a reader
of books. He is now able to realize his faults and the faults of the society.
Montag was walking through life blind, and Clarisse opened his eyes, for the
Later, Montag's changing becomes further amplified. When Montag, his two
comrades, and Captain Beatty answer an alarm, they are usually alone in the
building, able to go about their work which seemed janitorial. They "were simply
cleaning up." The culprits usually were arrested and taken away, but...