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Fahrenheit 451


Part 1 - Summary
Part 1 - Interpretation
Part 2 - Summary
Part 2 - Interpretation
Part 3 - Summary
Part 3 - Interpretation



Part 2 -Interpretation

Just as there is growing tension in Part 1 of the book, so there is a similar trend in Part 2.

The title of this part stems from a memory Montag has from his childhood when he was playing on a sand dune, and we assume that he had a much closer affinity to nature then, than now. The fact that he recalls this instance suggests that he is emerging from years of mundane routine and becoming a nonconformist, and this transition is exhilarating.

However, the reader worries that their hero may become rash and expose his rebellious thoughts to the powers that be.

The reader can relate to the people of this society because he/she is in the same position, in that Bradbury does not provide us with a detailed picture of this world.  We only receive glimpses of it. So, like them, we are in the dark to some degree.

Montag vainly tries to bring his wife Millie on board, but she wishes to remain in a world of ignorance.  Trying to bring her to her senses, he asks her if she loves her television family, but she is unable to answer.  All that Montag is doing is to drive his wife further away into a total land of make-believe, as provided by the parlor screens.  All she can see is ruin for them if Montag persists in these acts of nonconformity.  She says, ‘“Who is more important, me or that Bible?” She was beginning to shriek now, sitting there like a wax doll melting in its own heat.’

Again Bradbury makes reference to the destructive powers of fire and heat.

Millie comes over as a really sad person.  She is on a descending spiral of meaninglessness.

Bradbury uses symbolism again using the color white in his description of the old English Professor. You will remember he used a similar technique when describing Clarisse. The color white represents the qualities of good and purity, and of course fire is a symbol of evil and destruction. 

Faber later refers to himself as being water, and says that he will extinguish the fire that is within Montag and hopefully, in other firemen.  Through time, the bringing together of these two widely varying elements will produce a lasting blend which he describes as wine.

Faber has been preparing for this revolution.  He has invented an electronic device that Montag will wear in his ear, which is a receiver and transmitter.  Faber will use this device to support Montag when he comes in contact with Captain Beatty.  In fact, Faber will be using Montag’s body as an extension of his own thoughts.  Montag has become the catalyst through which change can be brought about.  Faber describes the relationship between himself and Montag as that of a “queen bee to a drone”.

Bradbury brings it home to the reader how much Faber values books through the scene where Montag starts ripping pages out of the Bible in order to secure Faber’s support.

The reader hopes that Montag’s conversation with Faber will make him more cautious, but when he returns home, he again blatantly reveals to Millie’s friends that he has a book.  To add to this crime he reads from it to the ladies who have a mixed response. One is moved by the poetry being reduced to tears, and the other uses this to highlight the unsettling effect that books have on people. 

Despite Faber’s attempts through the spying device to restrict Montag, he is out of control and Faber must fear for the success of their plans.

We again have more examples of Bradbury’s descriptive writing, none more so than in the opening paragraph of this part of the book.  It is well worth reading again!

Bradbury’s main theme for this book is the importance of the written word and how it is a basic ingredient of humanity.  Although some pertinent quotations appear in Part 1 of the book, Part 2 is riddled with relevant quotes, many of which come from Captain Beatty’s mouth, a man who clearly is well-read. 

The reader takes the view, therefore, that the Captain hasn’t made the sacrifices that the general population have.

The reader may have expected a duel of quotations between Captain Beatty and Faber via Montag, but this does not transpire. Instead, the climax of this part of the book is the realization that the firemen have been called out to Montag’s home, presumably to burn his books.

The reader may wonder why Bradbury picks on the Bible as Montag’s choice of book to take to the old man. Maybe it is to heighten the sacrilege of Montag’s page-ripping episode, which may not have had the same impact as pulling pages out of a novel or storybook.

Bradbury also uses the Bible to introduce to the reader, the idea that people, whatever their state, need a God, and this society still has Christ as part of their religion, but he has been incorporated into one of the television families.

Faber’s main contribution to this part of the book is to clarify what is missing in this modern society. It is clear that Faber is Bradbury’s mouthpiece, and what he tries to do is to encapsulate what the soul of humanity is. He suggests that this modern society lacks a quality of life, and part of the reason for that is the absence of books.  Books stimulate the mind, and just like people, they are infinitely varied. The problem with this society is that it uses its leisure time pointlessly. People are absorbed by the life portrayed on the television screens. They live a censored life. They have no access to books or other written works, and they are “entertained” by mindless drivel. 

Bradbury goes on to say that it is not sufficient to remove censorship.  People must be encouraged to enjoy their environment to the full - to be able to ask questions - to be allowed to read books - and most importantly, to be able to act upon the information they receive from this open way of life.

Throughout this part of the book, there is the underlying threat of war, but the reader is not clear what effect this will have on the storyline. Will it help or hinder Faber and Montag’s revolution?

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