Fahrenheit 451


What is change? Webster's Second Collegiate Dictionary, defines change as to cause to become different; alter; transform; convert. Many things, people, and world events are able to change. Peace may be present for years and shattered by a disagreement over religion, or shift of political power. Technology changes the lives of people and how the interact and work in the world. People also change. Many do not see any wrongdoing internally, and remain the way they are. However, there might be outside factors that help them realize what is wrong with them or the lifestyle they choose to take part in. According to Preston Bradley, "I don't care how much a man may consider himself a failure, I believe in him, for he can change the thing that is wrong in his life any time he is ready and prepared to do it. Whenever he develops the desire, he can take away from his life the thing that is defeating it. The capacity for reformation and change lies within." Throughout Fahrenheit 451, Montag, a dedicated fireman and book burner, sees pleasure and titillation from burning books and destroying lifetimes of important ideas. When outside influences put confusion in him, he begins a series of changes, eventually becoming a revolutionary in a society where books are valued.
Many factors contribute to the changes found in Montag. One of the first influences during the story is the exquisitely observant Clarisse McClellan. She is different from all of the others in society who like to head for a Fun Park to bully people around," or "break windowpanes in the Car Wrecker." She likes to observe people, and she observes Montag, diagnosing him as a "strange...fireman." He is "not like the others" because when she talks, he looks at her, and when she said something about the moon, he looks at it. Clarisse tells Montag that he is different from the other people. He has something inside of him that makes him "put up with" her. Clarisse makes Montag look at himself for the first time when she asks him, "Are you happy?" Montag thinks that she is talking nonsense, but he realizes that he truly is not happy. Something is missing from his life. Looking at his lifestyle, he found that the "only thing that I [Montag] positively knew was gone was the books I'd [he'd] burned in ten or twelve years." Clarisse helped Montag to start to think for himself, instead of letting the society take over and make the decisions for him. He begins his transformation from a dedicated fireman into a newborn, a reader of books. He is now able to realize his faults and the faults of the society. Montag was walking through life blind, and Clarisse opened his eyes, for the first time.
Later, Montag's changing becomes further amplified. When Montag, his two comrades, and Captain Beatty answer an alarm, they are usually alone in the building, able to go about their work which seemed janitorial. They "were simply cleaning up." The culprits usually were arrested and taken away, but this time there was a woman here. This woman was not like the rest. This woman refused to leave her books, replying Montag's pleads to leave with, "I want to stay here." She is even so bold as to bring her own death, for "in the palm of the [her] hand was a single slender object." An ordinary kitchen match. The woman's determination to die with the books rather than succumb to the rest of society shocked Montag. More and more questions arose in his head. "There must be something in books, things we [Montag and Mildred] can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; . . .You don't stay for nothing." The woman makes Montag think about books and about his lifestyle. Montag feels guilty for having killed a woman, for not making her save herself. His opinion of books changes. There must be something important in books to make a woman deny her right to live. He wonders if what he is doing is correct. Montag learns the power of the meaning in the books.
Montag changes again when he meets the old man that he met in the