Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury




    Almost 70 years ago.

    Many of Bradbury's predictions about the future especially electronics have come true!


    A society where there is great suffering and injustice.

    Hint: In The Hunger Games  Katniss Everdeen also lives in a dystopian society. 


    1. Conflict between freedom of thought and censorship. Society has voluntarily given up books and reading, and by and the people do not feel oppressed or censored.

    2. Rebellion 


    Science Fiction


    Sometime in the Future

    Undisclosed City



    Writer's Craft

    Bradbury purposely does not say where and when the story takes place. He wants the reader(that's you) to imagine the story taking place where you live, in your town. This makes a stronger connection between the reader and the story!


    pages 1-5 "It was a pleasure to burn"

    The main character, Guy Montag, is a fireman. 

    He does not put out fires. He sets fires!

    Helmet number 451 (the burning temperature of fire)

    "With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head' (Bradbury, 1)

    In Bradbury's book book paper burns at the temperature of 451 degrees Fahrenheit. (scientifically it depends on what kind of paper and some other factors)

    After work at midnight, Montag walks home and meets Clarisse McClellan, 17 years old and his new neighbor.

    Clarisse is a very open and curious and inquisitive girl, She asks lots and lots of questions. 

    "I'm seventeen and I'm crazy...I like to smell things and look at things, and sometimes stay up all night, walking and watch the sun rise...

    You know, I'm not afraid of you...

    so many people are afraid of fireman...

    How long've you worked as a fireman?...

    Do you ever read  any of the books you burn? (Bradbury, 5). 


    A hearth is part of a fireplace and a symbol of a warm and loving home. 

     A salamander is sometimes called a FIRE LIZARD. They got their name from running out of burning logs. Salamanders are a kind of good luck charm for fireman because inm ancient times people believed salamanders could survive a fire.  The United States has the most different kinds of salamanders of any place in the world.

    "It is a pleasure to burn"

    Pleasure brings you joy 

    Burning brings you PAIN. 

    pleasure and burning do not go together. This shocks the reader! 

    “With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history.”

    This is a metaphor. Bradbury is comparing the fire hose to a fire breathing snake (dragon). 

    Minstrel man 

    a real life reference. A reference means it is ALLUSION. An allusion is a reference to a famous person, place, character, movie, book, tv show. 

    Clarisse McClellan

    When Montag meets Clarisse things in the story story changed from VERY DARK AND DANGEROUS to very LIGHT, PURE and INNOCENT. Check out these words: 

    moonlit pavement

    Her face was slender and milk-white

    gentle hunger

    pale surprise

    dress was white

    the white stir of her face

    Clarisse's speech

    fearless, curious, inquisitive, innocent, light and fun


    pages 6-10 "A conversation with Clarisse"

    Montag is walking and talking at night on his way home with Clarisse. 

    Clarisse asks many questions and makes many "strange comments" that make Montag think about his life and the society he lives in.

    Fireman used to put out fires.

    Cars drives so fast people do NOT see anything. Life is a blur. "See no evil" You cannot miss what you don't see. 

    People do not look or see nature. the dew on the grass, the man on the moon. 

    Montag is shocked to see so many lights on at Clarisse's house.

    Shocked that Clarisse's family talks to each other. 

    Clarisse asks Montag "Are you happy?"

    Montag thinks about Clarisse, she is unforgettable. Her questions and comments are shining a LIGHT into his world, making him think!

    The meeting with Clarisse in very strange. He remembers meeting another strange perosn. "He rememberd nothing like it save one afternoon a year ago when he had met and old man in the park and they had talked..." (Bradbury, 8). 

    Montag realizes he is not happy. 


    Montag gets home and looks at the ventilator (air conditioning grill/duct) "He stood looking up at the ventilator grill in the hall and suddenly remembered that something lay hidden behind the grill, something that seemed to peer down and him now." (Bradbury, 8)

    Montag's wife, Mildred, is in bed. listening to music, barely breathing, comatose. 


    Key pad lock- "He put his hand into the glove hole of his front door and let it know his touch. The front door slid open." (Bradbury, 8). 

    Earbuds- "And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music, of talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her sleeping mind." (Bradbury, 10)


    pages 11-15 "sleeping pills, stomach pumps and sadness" 

    Montag has discovered his wife has overdosed on sleeping pills "The small crystal bottle of sleeping tablets which earlier today had been filled with thirty capsules and which now lay uncapped and empty in the light of the tiny flare." (Bradbury, 11). 

    There are military planes flying over the house when Montag discovers Mildred has overdosed.

    Montag calls the emergency hospital.

    Two technicians arrive with 2 machines to save Mildred.

    One machine pumps the stomach, but Bradbury says

    "The impersonal operator of the machine could, by wearing a special optical helmet, gaze into the soul of the person whom he was pumping out. What did the Eye see?" (Bradbury, 12). 

    "Did it drink of the darkness? Did it suck out all the poisons accumulated over the years?..."shove the bore down, slush up the emptiness in the throb of the suction snake." 

    PERSONIFICATION: Bradbury has given the machine an EYE to see into the soul. The machine has a human quality. 

    METAPHOR: Bradbury compares the stomach pump to a snake. 

    The other technician is giving Mildred a blood transfusion so she does not get brain damage. 

    The technicians are NOT doctors.

    In Montag's world there are too many overdoses for doctors so they have special emergency techs for overdoses. "We get these cases nine or ten a night.  Got so many, we had the special machines built...you don't need an MD...all you need is two handymen, clean up the problem in half an hour." (Bradbury, 13). 

    Mildred has OD'd on sleeping pills and sadness. "The men took their case of liquid melancholy and strolled out the door. (Bradbury, 13). 

    Mildred begins to recover after her stomach is pumped and the blood transfusion. 

    Montag looks outside and sees the lights are still on at Clarisse's house.

    He can hear the family talking and laughing. HAPPY!

    Clarisse's uncle says that people are not important, disposable in their society like tissues. "This is the age of the disposable tissues. Blow you nose on a person. wad them, flush away, reach for another, blow, wad, flush" (Bradbury, 15). 

    Montag lays down to go to sleep and his mind is very troubled.

    The moonlight and Montag's thoughts are like a rain storm. Pounding his brain. 

    He takes a "sleeping lozenge" and falls asleep.


    pages 16-20 "Mildred or Clarisse, Who is mentally ill?"

    On page 16, Montag wakes up the next morning.

    His wife has no memory of her overdose. She thinks she is hungover from a party.

    Mildred "had both ears plugged with elctronic bees that were humming the hour away." (Bradbury, 16.)

    Mildred does not hear or listen to her husband. She never takes her ear buds out. Instead, she reads lips.

    "She was an expert at lip reading from ten years of apprenticeship at Seashell ear-thimbles." (Bradbury, 16) 

    Montag confronts his wife about her overdose. She denies taking too many pills. "I didn't do that...Never in a billion years.
     (Bradbury, 17). 

    The living room has 3 walls of TV screens. 

    Mildred has a script for an interactive TV show. She has a part in a show. (Sounds similar to interactive on-line video games)

    On page 18, Mildred wants a fourth-wall TV screen installed. Cost one-third of Montag's yearly salary. ($2,000)

    Mildred appears to be addicted to her ear-buds, technology and drugs, but this behavior appears to be "normal" for this new society of Fahrenheit 451. 

    Page 19, Montag goes outside in the rain. He sees his neighbor, Clarisse.

    Clarisse is walking in the rain with a huge bunch of dandelions and tasting the rain drops. "I love to walk in it...Rain even tastes good." (Bradbury, 19). 

    Clariss rubs a dandelion undr Montags chin. If the dandelion rubs off on Montag's chin it means that he has been in love.

    The dandelion shows that Montag is NOT in love. "What a shame...You're not in love with anyone." (Bradbury, 19). 

    Montag is very upset when Clarisse accusses him of not being in love.

    Page 20, Clarisse reveals that she goes to a psychiatrist. "I've got to go see my psychiatrist now. They make me go...The psychiatrist says I'm a gegular onion. I keep him busy peeling away the layers...they want to know what I do with all my time. I tell they that I just sit and think. But I won't ell them what."  (Bradbury, 20). 


    It is implied that Clarisse is mentally ill because she loves nature, is curious, asks questions and likes to think for herself. 

    pages 20-25 "Fireman, the Phoenix and the Hound"

    On page 21, Montag continues his conversation with Clarisse. She doesn't understand why he is a fireman.

    "I think it is so strange you're a fireman, it just doen't seem right for you, somehow." (Bradbury, 21). 

    Montag starts to question and think about his job as a fireman and if he was really supposed to be a fireman.

    "He felt his body divide itself into a hotness and coldness, a softness and hardness, a trembling and a not trembling, the two halves grinding one upon the other." (Bradbury, 21). 

     Montag goes to work at the firehouse and sees "THE HOUND". A machine that smells out and attacks and destroys and kills pests (rat, cats, chickens) with a shot of chemicals, put to sleep.

    "the ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the Hound...gripped in gentling paws while a four-inch hollow steel needle plunged down from the proboscis of the Hound to inject massive jolts of morphine or procaine. The pawn was then tossed in the incinerator...it just functions...It's only copper wire, storage batteries, and electricity...It doesn't think...all we put into it is hunting and finding and killing." (Bradbury, 22-25). 

    Montag is AFRAID of the Hound.

    Montag believes the Hound has been programmed to attack and one day kill him.

    The Hound growls at Montag. Montag believes the Hound knows his DNA.

    Montag is afraid that someone knows what he has hidden in the air conditioning vent at his house. 

    The Captain. 

    Wears a hat with the sign of the Phoenix.  From Greek mythology. A bird that rises from the ashes of destruction.  In Christianity the Phoenix is a symbol of the ressurection Of Jesus Christ who died on the Cross and goes to Heaven and eternal life. 

    pages 25-30 "Schools and Firehouses" 

    Page 25, Montag sees Clarisse every day outside for 7 days.

    Clarisse is intrigued by nature, the trees, vlowers, leave, nuts.

    She walks Montag to the subway station every day and they talk.

    Clarisse asks QUESTIONS. "Why don't you have a daughter?"

    Montag is shocked by questions. People do not care about each other. 

    "It was a good quetion. It's been a long time since anyone cared enough to ask." (Bradbury, 26). 

    Anti-social means to go against the laws of a society. Clarisse is anti-social because she likes people and asking questions. 

    On page 27, Clarrise describes school.  She does not go to school because "they" say Clarisse is anti-social. 

    TV-class and film-teacher. There are no human teachers. Teaching/learning is done over a TV screen.  (Sounds like online learning on a computer. HOW AWFUL!)

    The students get an education from a screen and lots of exercise to tire them out. "They run us so ragged by the end of the day we can't do anything but go to bed." 

    Students cannot ask questions.

    Clarisse does NOT mention any school books. 

    They are fed answers. "it's a lot of funnels and a lot of water poured down the spout." (Bradbury, 27). 

    On page 27, children go to a Fun Park to be bullied, run and dance, beat each other up and play violent games. 

    Clarisse tells Montag that children kill each other. In the last year:

    Six children shot

    Ten children died in car wrecks. 

    Clarisse is afraid of the other children.

    Her generation is violent, uncaring and irresponsible. 

    Montag sees Clarisse for seven more days and then "Clarisse was gone." (Bradbury, 29). 

    The Fire house

    Filled with bright shiny metallic equipment

    There is a time-voice clock, that says the time and date.

    The fireman play cards. 

    They listen to the radio. 

    All the fireman look eerily the same. Conformity. Their physical appearance is like a uniform, too. It is easy to recognize a fireman. 

    "faces were sunburnt by a thousand real and ten thousand imaginary fires...black hair, black brows, a fiery face, and a blue-steel shaved but unshaved look...the color of cinders and ash about them and the continual smell of burning from their pipes...of tobacco smoke." (Bradbury, 30). 

    pages 30-35-"The Fireman Rule Book" 

    Montag is at work, at the fire house.

    There is a"typed lists of million forbidden books" (Bradbury, 31).  

    He asks Beatty (the captain) questions.

    What happened to the man whose library we fixed?

    Why did they take the man to the asylum?

    "Didn't fireman prevent fires rather than stoke them up and get them going?" (Bradbury, 31). 

    What was it like "once upon a time"?

    It is dangerous to question authority or the government. 


    Established by Ben Frnaklin in 1790 to burn books in the Colonies.


    On page 33, the "firemen" answer an alarm at a very old house.

    "Like all houses it had been given a thin firproof plastic sheath many years ago and this preservative shell seemed to be the only thing holding it in the sky." (Bradbury 33).

    The firemen have been called to the house to destroy all the books and set the entire structure on fire. 

    Montag is distressed.

    There is a woman in the house!! Usually, the police remove the owner before the fireman arrive.

    "When you arrived you found an empty house. Your weren't hurting anyone, you were hurting things...You were simply cleaning up. Janitorial work...Quick with the kerosene. Who's got a match? (Bradbury, 34). 

    The house is filled with books, books, and more books. Montag grabs one of the books and hides it under his arm. 

    "His hand had done it all, his hand, with a brain of its own, with a conscience and a curiousty in each trembling finger, had turned thief." (Bradbury, 35). 

    The fireman "pumped the cold fluid from the numeraled 451 tanks strapped to their shoulders." (Bradbury, 35). 

    The fireman use kerosene NOT water. 

    The homeowner refuses to leave her books. "You can't ever have my books" (Bradbury, 35). 

    She is willing to die. 

    pages 36-40-"Martyrs for a cause"

    On page 36, Montag tries to convince the woman to leave the house. He pulls her arm.  But she is holding a match.

    The fireman must leave.

    Montag realizes fires are always at night "Always at night the alarm comes. Never by day! Is it because fire is prettier by night? More spectacle, a better show? (Bradbury, 36). 

    As Captain Beatty get ready to set the kerosene on fire the woman strikes her match. "The woman on the porch reached out with CONTEMPT to them all, and struck the kitchen match against the railing. (Bradbury, 37). 

    The house goes up in flames.

    Bottom of page 37, Montag wonders why the woman kept repeating the words "Master Ridley" when she opened the door.

    Captain Beatty recites from memory "We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."  and explains

    "A man named Latimer said that to a man named Nicholas Ridley, as they were being burned alive at Oxford, for heresy, on October 16, 1555." (Bradbury, 37). 


    Latimer and Ridley were burned to death (executed) because of heresy. 

    Heresy is when you have a religious belief that is not accepted by most religions.

    Latimer and Ridley were willing to be MARTYRS, to die by fire because the fire would shine a light on their deaths and religious beliefs.

    The woman is willing to be a MARTYR, too. She is willing to die to shine a light on book banning. 

    Montag is so shocked that Captain Beatty knows a quote from a BOOK that he misses the turn to the fire house. 

    On page 38, Montag goes home.

    Montag is distressed that he stole a book during the fire he feels "His hands had been infected...and his eyes were beginning to feel hunger, as if they must look at something, anything, everything." (Bradbury, 38). He is worried. He knows he wants to read books!

    He hides the stolen book under his pillow and cries.

    On page 39, Montag's wife, Mildred, is in bed listening to her "Seashell" (earbuds). 

    Montag's wife is addicted to the technology. She has become a stranger.

    On page 40, Montag asks Mildred, where and when they met for the very first time. Neither one of them can remember and Mildred says it doesn't matter.

    Mildred leaves the room to take sleeping pills. 

    pages 41-50-"montag is sick of his job, his wife and his life"

    On page 41, Montag remembers the night that Mildred overdosed on sleeping capsules and she had to have her stomach pumped by the Electronic Eyed Snake. 

    "And he remembered thinking then that if she died, he was certain he wouldn't cry." (Bradbury, 41). 

    Montag realizes his marriage has fallen apart. "a silly empty man near a silly empty woman, while the hungry snake made her still more empty." (Bradbury 41). 

    Montag realizes that besides the sleeping pills,  that Mildred's addiction to the screen walls (TV screens) have come between them and their marriage.

    "Wasn't there a wall between him and Mildred...literally not just one wall but, so far, three! and expensive, too!" (Bradbury, 41). 

    The people on the interactive TV screens have become Mildred's famiy.

    On page 42, Montag finds it ironic that Mildred spend all her time with her virtual family in the "living room". 

    Mildred is NOT living in the real world anymore. She lives in a virtual world.

    The screen walls make Montag physically ill and out of touch.

    On page 43, Montag reveals that when Mildred is in the car she drives at 105 MPH, so she cannot see anything of the real world. 


    In our society 55 mph is the MAXIMUM safe speed to drive a car.

    In Fahrenheit 451, 55 MPH is the MINIMUM speed. The government doesns't want people to drive slowly and observe anything. 

    Page 44, Montag asks his wife MIldred if she has seen the neighbors, specifically has she seen Clarisse.

    Montag learns that Clarisse is dead.

    "Run over by a car. Four days ago. ..I think she's dead. The family moved out anyway. I don't know. But I think she's dead" (Bradbury, 44). 

    Most likely, Clarisse has been killed by the government in "an accident" because she was a free-thinker and asks questions. 

    Page 45, as Montag tries to falls asleep he hears something outside his house, he sees a shadow and is convinced "The Hound" is looking for him. 

    Page 45 and 46, Montag wakes up and is says he is sick with a fever. Mildred is schocked he is ill.

    Page 47, Montag remembers burning the book and the woman in her house. HE VOMITS!

    Montag is physically sick because the fire department killed and burned a woman. Mildred does not care. 

    Montag wants to call in sick to work.

    He is horrified by the woman's death.

    He wants to quit his job. "this fire'll last me the rest of my life. God! I've been trying to put it out, in my mind, all night. I'm crazy with trying." (Bradbury, 48). 


    Mildred does not care. Mildred thinks the woman deserved to die because she had books. 

    Page 49, Montag reveals that his father and his grandfather were also "fireman". 

    Montag is also feeling guilty because he has realized that when he burns books he is burning a man. "I realized that a man was behind each one of the books. A man had to think them up. A man had to take a long time to put them down on paper." (Bradbury, 49). 

    On page 50, Captain Beatty shows up at Montag's house to check on Montag.


    Both Montag and Mildred are frightened that Captain Beatty has come to their house.

    Remember, Montag is hiding 2 books in his house. 

    Mildred is afraid Montag will lose his job. 

    pages 50-55-"Digesting"

    Montag is hiding a book under his pillow. He is hiding it from Beatty and Mildred.

    Fire Chief Beatty says he understands that Montag is confused about his job as a fireman and burning books.

    Beatty says Montag "Needs to know the history of our profession." (Bradbury, 51). 

    Beatty says "it really got started around about a thing called the Civil War...until photography came into its own. Then motion pictures in the early twentieth century. Radio.Television. Things began to have mass." (Bradbury 51). 

    According to Beatty, books became less important and more controversial as other forms of media (film, radio, magazines, tv) became more popular and easy to "digest".

    Eventually, books and the written word became "digests" or condensed down to one-column, one paragraph, one line, a headline. 

    PLAY ON WORDS-digest

    When we eat we digest food or process the food into nutrients. 

    When we read and comprehend the text we digest information or process the information. 

    Reader's Digest is a magazine founded in 1922. The magazine condenses stories, news articles and information down to its simplest form. 

    The author, Bradbury, is saying that the written word or books were condensed to make the books easier for readers to digest intellectually. 

    On page 53, Beatty explains that reading became unimportant in school. "Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?" (Bradbury, 53). 


    Beatty further explains that as technology makes life easier and easier "a man lacks just that much time to think". 


    Page 54, Beatty explains that group sports and televised sports were created to stop people from thinking for themselves. "More sports for everyone. group spirit. fun, and you don't have to think...The mind drinks less and less." (Bradbury, 54). 


    As car became more popular people rushed around from place to place. No time to stop and sit and think. 


     According to Beatty, special-interest groups and other “minorities” objected to books that offended them. Soon, books all began to look the same, as writers tried to avoid offending anybody.


    Page 55, Being a free-thinker or asking questions became a bad thing. "examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word intellectual of course became the swear word it deserved to be." (Bradbury, 55). 


    In this society it is more important to be exactly the same and equal and happy than anything else.

    "We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal." (Bradbury, 55). 

    pages 56-60-"a book is a loaded gun"

    Page 56, Beatty explains that books are dangerous, like a loaded gun. "A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon." (Bradbury, 56.).


    Beatty explains, that houses became completely fire-proof all over the world.

    No need for firemen to put out fires. 

    Firemen given a new job.

    "They were given the new job, as custodians of out peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior; official censors, judges, and executioners." (Bradbury, 56). 


    Fireman burn books to keep poeple and society HAPPY!

    "People want to be happy, isin't that right...we give then fun. That's all we live for isn't it? for pleasure, for titillation?" (Bradbury, 56).  


    On page 57, Beatty explains that funerals make people unhappy so bodies are burned or cremated immediately after death. 


    Page 57, Montag asks Beatty what happened to Clarisse.

    Is she dead?

    Why was Clarisse different?

    How did that happen? 

    Beatty explains that heredity and enviroment can sometimes be so strong that they overcome society's efforts to control people. 

    Clarisse was killed. "She didn't want to know how a thing was done, but why? You ask why to a lot of things and you wind up very unhappy indeed,if you keep at it. The poor girl's better off dead." (Bradbury, 57-58). 


    On page 58, Beatty states that thinking, philosophy and sociology just make peope melancholy (sad).

    Keep people entertained and happy. That's what's important. The job of a fireman is to destroy books because they make the world sad. 

    "The important thing for you to remembeer, Montag, is we're the Happiness Boys, the Dixie Duo...We depend on you. I don't think you realize how important you are, we are, to our happy world as it stands now." (Bradbury, 59). 

    Beatty admits that he has read books, but insists that BOOKS SAY NOTHING.

    Beatty knows that Montag has some books. Beatty assures Montag that all fireman are curious about books. It's natural.

    Beatty is going to let Montag keep his books for 24 HOURS. Then Montag has to turn the book in to be burned or the fireman will come and get the books.

    Beatty is giving Montag a little time. But Montag must return to work. 

    Page 60, As Beatty leaves Montag's house he issues a subtle threat. "Will we see you tonight, perhaps?...We'd certainly miss you if you didn't show." (Bradbury, 60). 

    As Beatty leaves, Montag realizes he will never go back to the firehouse. He will never be a fireman again. He will not burn anymore books. 

    pages 60-65-"hidden books" 

     Captain Beatty leaves Montag's house. His vehicle is the color of fire "yellow-flame-colored beetle with black charcoal colored tires." 

    Montag thinks about Clarisse who said that

    houses don't have front porches anymore

    yards don't have gardens

    people don't have rocking chairs anymore. 

    "My uncle says the architects got rid of front porches because they didn't look well...that was merely rationalizing it; the real reason, hidden underneath might be they didn't want peole sitting like that, doing nothing, rocking, talking; that was the wrong kind of social life. People talked too much. And they had time to think." (Bradbury, 60). 

    Page 61

    Mildred is listening to TV screens, the screens have a converter that allows the TV to talk to you by name.

    Montag tells his wife he does not want to go back to work.

    Montag is distressed he wants to smash and kill things.

    Mildred tells him to take "the beetle" or car and drive VERY FAST to clear his mind and maybe he will hit some animals. 

    "I always like to drive fast when I feel that way...It's fun out in the country. you hit rabbist, sometimes you hit dogs." (Bradbury, 61). 

    Page 63

    Montag admits he is not happy. He may even start reading books, but that is a crime.

    His wife, Mildred, is very happy and content with her life.

    Montag shows Mildred that he has hidden about 20 books in their house in the AC vent. 

    Mildred is frightened. She wants to burn the books right now.

    Montag wants to read the books just once. 

    Page 64 and 65

    He thinks the books have the answers he is looking for. 

    The doorbell rings. Montag and Mildred ignore it and he begins to read the books.