30 July 2011

Read-Along: Fahrenheit 451 - Part Three - Final Thoughts

Warning, the following is an in-depth look at parts of Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451.' It may be interesting and informative to those who have read it, but it will ruin the book for those who have not! Proceed with caution.

And so we come to the conclusion of my read along. I don’t know how many people read with me, or at least read the book at all. Whether you read it with or without me, I still hope you enjoy my concluding post and analysis of Fahrenheit 451.

When I sat down to complete the novel, I was witnessing Guy Montag spiral down into oblivion. He’d been found out by his fellow fireman to be a reader, and so he found himself outside his own home, ready to burn it to the ground. Somehow, as the reader, I really didn’t care. His house was something foreign to him, and I sort of had that feeling like it wasn’t home anymore. He really didn’t belong anywhere at this point.

Guy, of course, doesn’t go down without a fight. He ends up killing Beatty and the Hound before running off into the night with a handful of books he manages to salvage. His house is gone.

This is the end of Beatty. Later Montag thinks Beatty wanted to die because he didn’t do anything obvious as far as trying to save his life or escape. Whether this is true or Montag’s imagination I don’t know. I suppose Beatty could have had two sides to him; the fireman we all saw as a destroyer of thought, and a man who secretly harbors a guilt for what he has done.

I don’t know about any of you, but does the mechanical hound not freak you out? Later they replace the one that Montag destroyed with another to sniff him out and find him once he runs off. Bradbury calls it a ‘dead-alive’ thing and I think he’s not far off. It’s just creepy what I’ve imagined in my head, but there’s something else that I’ve been considering as well. The mechanical hound is just a fast, smarter version of the rest of humanity that Guy encounters. They are all emotionless drones that don’t ask questions, just accuse and destroy.

Guy runs off to Faber’s house, the hermit of a book lover, in need of help. Faber tells Guy to leave for the river and find what are sort of considered hobos and the homeless. They’re retired professors, doctors, great-thinkers. Faber tells him to move across country and he’ll meet him in a few days. Faber apparently wants to find a retired printer in order to get more books printed.

This is the end of our reading of Faber. We assume he makes it out of the city before the first bombs hit after the war is declared, but we know no more of him. I’m not sure what I think of the old man. He seemed extremely intelligent and wise, but he always hid. He never seemed to want to do too much for Guy in case he would be caught. All the ambition but none of the courage?

Guy eventually leaves the city and the police, and the new Hound, lose track of him. He enters the wilderness and experiences a sort of delayed coming of age. I suppose that’s how you could describe it. He sees things for the first time in probably his entire life. He slows down just enough to live it all the proper way.

He finds the men living near the railroad tracks as promised, and he’s a bit surprised how readily they take him in. They’ve been watching the chase from their small TV and have waited for him. He finds who they are, what they used to be, and that each one of them knows parts of great literature by heart. Nothing is written, it’s all in their minds and they can recite it by heart so that when the fear of books does pass they may be re-written.

Guy finds he himself able to recite a bit of a book, since he memorized a portion of one earlier. He is taken in with the other men and decides to travel with them. They watch on the television the ‘chase’ for Montag, in which another man walking down the street is attacked in place of Guy so that the government apparently doesn’t have to admit they lost the original Guy Montag.

Then the war comes. Montag is afraid for his wife, Millie, but he admits his attachment to her has gone. The jets fly over head and bomb the city, and the men stare in awe at the destruction.

And then, they decide to return to the city to help. The bombs wipe the slate clean, and the men pushed out because of their minds decide to return to assist those in need, and to perhaps start anew.

This was one of the most hopeful endings to a dystopian novel I’ve ever read. Sure the place was destroyed, the characters still seemed helpless, but they were going back to rebuild They weren’t giving up, they were just waiting for people to accept books again and to re-write them. It was as if they smile smugly and stood back saying, “Go ahead, act like fools, we’re here when you’re ready to listen.”

Out of all the characters in this novel, only one is nearly innocent all around. Clarisse, the mysterious girl who appears only briefly before disappearing, and was probably killed. Guy, even though he fights for good, still seems a little off and wrong. Faber is a wise man but a coward. Beatty is lost and hopeless. Mildred, well, I just wanted to shake her by the arms but I doubt she’d feel it.

I truly loved this book. It was about an event that is sort of happening around us with the e-readers and the banned books. How many teens read books today? I’m completely guilty of getting mad excited when I see little cousins reading or getting them books for birthdays. Reading is dying, and it’s because of the people who are lost in their gadgets. However, I am proud to say that at least us readers are here to keep it alive! So we don’t burn them, well we don’t do much else with them either.

The hope at the end of this book was what really got me. I don’t know how many of you thought it was hope, but I did, and it made me feel so much better about the world of Fahrenheit 451.

The only question that remains is, if you had to remember one part of a novel for generations to come, to memorize it and be able to recite it, which novel, which part, and why?

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