English / The Fireman

The Fireman

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Autor:  anton  21 May 2011
Tags:  Fireman
Words: 990   |   Pages: 4
Views: 921

The Fireman

In the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury the main character Montag goes through a complete ideological change in the duration of the novel. As a fireman and a burner of books in this censored dystopian society, Montag at first a loyal worker to it, then a man in conflict about it, and finally one resolved to be free of it There are certain people and events that pose as catalysts throughout the novel that prompt Montag’s growth and ultimate transformation.

At first Montag is the ideal citizen. He is a distinguished fireman who raids houses and burns book with a manic pleasure. Montag lives, eats, and breaths fire. That is until he meets his first catalyst, a young girl names Clarisse McClellan. According to Margaret Atwood’s victimization theory Clarisse met Montag while he was trapped in stage one: the victim in a state of denial even though he is surrounded with evidence of government censorship, and emotional repression. On Montag’s first encounter with Clarisse she overwhelms him with questions that at one time were normal but now were quite taboo and bizarre. “Are you happy?” (Bradbury 10). This question Clarisse springs upon Montag without warning and without waiting for a response as she runs back into her house. Montag cannot shake this question, at first he is taken aback that she may even doubt his happiness in a society where it is spoon fed to you. This moment is the beginning of Montag’s metamorphosis. Immediately following his first encounter with Clarisse he finds his wife Mildred overdosed on sleeping pills. These two major events hitting Montag one right after the other is what pushes him through the intoxicating fog of denial and into the harsh light of reality.

Once Montag has accepted the fact the he is a victim of this censored society he is ready and willing to try and do something but he has no idea where to start. Montag has been stashing books in his house and finally he has the courage to open one and read it, once he does he is overwhelmed with a passion and intense vigor for more. He rants about the house opening and closing books at random and reading arbitrary passages out loud to Mildred. At one point Mildred has a few lady friends over to watch ‘The Family’ on the walls of their living room. While the ladies are babbling on about their divorces and their children and what little unwanted monsters they are Montag decided to read them some poetry. As he reads the first and last stanzas of the poem Dover Beach the women are shocked and appalled, that is all but one. Mrs. Phelps bursts into tears, and no one, not even Mrs. Phelps has the slightest idea why. Montag has now moved from a stage one victim, to a stage two victim: he is aware of his repression and the repression of those around him yet unsure of the cause of their victimization. That is until Montag remembers Faber, an old man he met in a park that admitted to once being a professor and quoted passages. When Montag contacts Faber and wishes to speak with him in person he actually brings a copy of the Bible with him to Faber’s house. This act alone signifies a huge leap in Montag’s ideology, not but a few days ago he was a first class citizen, a burner of books and the ideal fireman, obsessed and completely consumed by the flames in which ignited.

The point in which Montag’s final revolution had taken place was full of events. Once he returns to the fire station for being out ‘sick,’ his commanding officer Captain Beatty describes to Montag a dream that Beatty had where Montag and himself get in a literary debate and each man spouting off quotes with Beatty topping every one Montag tried. Montag listened while Beatty taunted him and goaded him to make some sort of rebuttal, but with Faber listening in Montag’s ear he was able to keep him calm and silent. All was going fine until a call was in to the fire station. As the firemen road to the house of the condemned Montag was astonished to find out it was his own home they parked the kerosene filled truck in front of. At that moment Montag snapped. All of a sudden he turned on Beatty and set him alight along with that dreadful mechanical hound. Beatty did not struggle; he almost seemed to welcome his demise like a long needed vacation. Finally Montag has ascended to victim theory number three: Montag refuse to stay a victim, he has identified the source of his victimization and is now taking affirmative action to change his position. After escaping Beatty, the mechanical hound and an intense police chase, Montag finally evades the authorities by jumping into a river where he floats down and meets a group of vagrants who are led by a man named Granger. Granger is the character opposite of Beatty, he helps Montag and encourages his literary growth and is relying on Montag to retain his new knowledge of The Book of Ecclesiastes as they too are book burners.

As Montag and his new brethren walk down the forest path towards the ruined city he thinks of something to say, “And on either side if the river was there a tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of nations” (Bradbury 165). This passage is from Revelation 22:2, the King James Version. The mere fact the Montag can pull such a profound passage and use it to inspire and comfort is the pinnacle of his transformation. He is no longer a victim of his environment; he has grown and evolved into a new man. A leader of the free.

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