The Complexities of Beatty and the Social Malaise in Fahrenheit 451

Classified in Philosophy and ethics

Written at on English with a size of 4.13 KB.

 He had just stood there, not really trying to save himself, just stood there, joking, needling, thought Montag, and the thought was enough to stifle his sobbing and let him pause for air." Instantly, the reader and Montag understand Beatty in a much different light. Montag suddenly sees that, although he always assumed that all firemen were happy, he has no right to make this assumption any longer. Although Beatty seemed the most severe critic of books, he, in fact, thought that outlawing individual thinking and putting a premium on conformity stifled a society. Beatty was a man who understood his own compromised morality and who privately admired the conviction of people like Montag.

In a strange way, Beatty wanted to commit suicide but was evidently too cowardly to carry it out. Bradbury illustrates the general unhappiness and despondency of certain members of society three times before Beatty's incident: Millie's near-suicide with the overdose of sleeping pills; the oblique reference to the fireman in Seattle, who "purposely set a Mechanical Hound to his own chemical complex and let it loose"; and the unidentified woman who chose immolation along with her books. People in Montag's society are simply not happy. Their desire for death reflects a social malaise of meaningless and purposelessness.

When war is finally declared, the hint of doom, which has been looming on the horizon during the entire novel, now reaches a climax. This new development serves as another parallel to the situation in which Montag finds himself. Montag sees his former life fall apart as the city around him faces a battle in which it will also be destroyed.

As Montag runs, his wounded leg feels like a "chunk of burnt pine log" that he is forced to carry "as a penance for some obscure sin." Again, the imagery of fire is used to suggest purification. The penance Montag must pay is the result of all his years of destruction as a fireman. Even though the pain in his leg is excruciating, he must overcome even more daunting obstacles before he achieves redemption.

Unexpectedly, the seemingly simple task of crossing the boulevard proves to be his next obstacle. The "beetles" travel at such high speeds that they are likened to bullets fired from invisible rifles. Bradbury enlists fire imagery to describe these beetles: Their headlights seem to burn Montag's cheeks, and as one of their lights bears down on him, it seems like "a torch hurtling upon him."

After Montag and Faber make their plans for escape, the reader witnesses Faber's devotion to the plans that he and Montag have made. In choosing to flee to St. Louis to find an old printer friend, Faber also places his life in jeopardy to ensure the immortality of books.

Montag imagines his manhunt as a "game," then as a "circus" that "must go on," and finally as a "one-man carnival." Montag's thoughts, however, do not mean that he imagines it as something silly or playful, but instead, in his community, he considers everyday experience to be a spectacle.

When Montag escapes to the river, the imagery of water, a traditional symbol of regeneration and renewal (and, for Carl Jung, transformation), coupled with Montag's dressing in Faber's clothes, suggests that Montag's tale of transformation is complete. He has shed his past life and is now a new person with a new meaning in life.

His time spent in the water, accompanied by the escape from the city, serves as an epiphany for Montag's spirit: "For the first time in a dozen years [that is, since he became a fireman] the stars were coming out above him, in great processions of wheeling fire." The escape allows Montag — again, for the first time in years — to think. He thinks about his dual roles as man and fireman. "After a long time of floating on the land and a short time of floating in the river," the reader is told, "he knew why he must never burn again in his life." Only human beings are capable of making choices (and, hence, are capable of being moral), and his moral choice is to cease burning.

Entradas relacionadas: