The dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451 written by Ray Bradbury, tells the story of Guy Montag, a fireman whose job is to burn forbidden books. Montag never questioned the idea of burning books until he met a young woman named Clarisse who widened his perspectives on life, making him question everything he thought he knew. Author Ray Bradbury uses many examples of foreshadowing in the novel.
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Foreshadowing is when the author gives clues and/or hints about what will occur later in the story as a way to create suspense, set up conflict and to get the readers thinking. An example of foreshadowing happens in the early stages of the novel when Montag’s new neighbor, Clarisse, asks him Are you happy? At first, Montag laughs and doesn’t put too much thought into it, but once he gets home, he becomes very defensive and thinks long and hard about his answer. A seemingly simple question pushes Montag’s mind into a spiral of more questions. This sets up Montag’s internal conflict that he’ll battle until the end of the novel. At the end of the story, we find out that montag is not happy.
A question of happiness and his identity will later be the sole purpose for his existence. This simple conversation foreshadows Montag’s journey to find himself and his purpose in life. The use of foreshadowing in this moment is very crucial because it uncovers a deeper understanding of Montag’s character, and forces the readers to step into Montag’s shoes. Another example of foreshadowing in the novel occurs when Montag was standing in the hallway of his house, talking to his wife, Mildred, about how she overdosed on sleeping pills. During their conversation, Montag looked up and stared at the ventilator vent for a long period of time. This occasion foreshadowed a very important idea that readers will uncover as the novel progresses. Later, we find out that Montag had a stash of books hidden in the vent.
Though this scene foreshadows that Montag had forbidden books protected in the vent, there is a deeper message involved that is foreshadowed and uncovered later in the story. While books are getting burned in Montag’s society throughout the novel, the hidden books he stored were protected in cool vent, symbolizing that the books were protected in safe haven, distant from the burning and fires of the other books. As reader’s, we don’t figure this out immediately after Montag stares up at the vent. The author uses that scene to foreshadow the symbolism that will be uncovered further along in the reading. Using this method builds suspense and questions among readers and helps the plot run smoothly. Overall, Ray Bradbury uses multiple examples of foreshadowing as a way to keep the reader’s thinking, build suspense, create conflict and add important events to the plot.
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