Fahrenheit 451: what’s Wrong with Montag’s Society
In the novel Fahrenheit 451, why? is a commonly asked question. That one question eventually helps Guy Montag realize what is wrong with his society. Sometimes in today’s world, it is necessary to ask why. It only when it is asked why that it is possible to fully understand and grow from problems. If Montag had never asked Clarisse and Faber why, he would have kept doing his job, without any understanding of his purpose, or why he was doing it. In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag comes across people who have separate views on asking why to learn the answers to their questions; Clarisse McClellan and Faber.
They teach Montag valuable lessons through their stories, and from there, Montag leaves his community and finds others who have asked the same question, why. Clarisse McClellan is always described in Fahrenheit 451 as a strange child. When she and Montag first meet, Montag learns that her uncle is just as strange. Clarisse in this situation is an example of how sometimes asking why is not a necessity. She grew up listening to her uncle’s silly reasonings, and never questioned how true it is, such as the scene when she says, My uncle says it was different once.
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A long time back sometimes pictures said things and even showed people.’, Montag responded with, Your uncle said, your uncle said. Your uncle must be a remarkable man,'(Bradbury 28). Clarisse is also an example of how people do not typically question what they are told, not even when they are just a child. Clarisse also helps Montag realize how he did not really know the purpose of his job through her asking him, Is it true that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?'(Bradbury 6). Later on, Montag is thinking about this and he asks Captain Beatty the same question. Beatty explains it, and Montag is still confused, so he goes to Faber, asking why. Guy Montag is still curious about the truth, so he refers to an old friend, Faber, to find the answer. Faber asks why Montag came to visit him, and Montag’s response is, Nobody listens anymore. I can’t talk to the walls because they’re yelling at me.
I can’t talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it’ll make sense. And I want you to teach me to understand what I read'(Bradbury 78). It is necessary for Faber to ask Montag why, because otherwise he may think that Montag is crazy; a fireman showing up at his door with a book in his hand. When Montag asks Faber about books, he becomes aware of the lies has been told while working as a fireman. The turning point for Montag is when he says, I don’t want to change sides and just be told what to do. There’s no reason to change if I do that,'(Bradbury 88). He was taught his whole life to hate books and he quickly changes that, all because of him asking Faber about it and coming up with a plan. While this plan is being executed, Montag also learns about other people who have ideas related to his own. They have been running to (and from) an event close to taking place: war. A war is going on throughout the book. While Montag is at Faber’s house, the narrator describes, Bomber’s fight had been moving east all the time they talked, and only now did the two men stop and listen, feeling the great jet sound tremble inside themselves,(Bradbury 83).
The war is put to the side in their world, and the citizens do not typically pay attention to it. Some citizens do pay attention to the war. After Montag escapes the Mechanical Hound, he finds a group of men who have similar beliefs on books that he does. Those men are looking forward to the war to start and end. Granger, the group’s leader says, Right now we have a horrible job; we’re waiting for the war to begin and, as quickly end…When the war’s over, perhaps we can be of some use in the world,'(Bradbury 146). These men already asked why, and they have decided to make the best of their situation.
It is necessary for them to ask themselves and possibly others how to spread literature and books, and they realize that after the war, people will be desperate for any type of hope. This is good for Montag to see because it is similar to his situation- he needed a little hope after he lost everything and found the men. What really is the reason for humans asking why? People ask why when they want an answer, a solution, a valid reason. When Montag finally wants an answer he asks why. After he realizes everything that was wrong, he sets out to change it. If Montag had never asked Clarisse and Faber why, he would have kept doing his job, without any understanding of his purpose, or why he was doing it. In Fahrenheit 451, asking why opened up a whole new world for Guy Montag.