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    Homepage > Writing Samples > Academic Writing Samples > Essay Samples > Summary Essay Samples > “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray…

    18 Dec ’12
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    cea98839e8411aa7d15061fadb7df35b The dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 written by the famous fiction writer Ray Bradbury in 1953 tells the story of a 30-year-old fireman, Guy Montag. In the beginning, he is a loyal servant of a consumerist society that was encumbered by heavy censorship and a pending war. After a sequence of events, he seeks ways to break free of it. Bradbury shows how horrible a society can become when it denies the necessities of imagination and true communication and sticks, instead, to material goods alone (Longman 365).

    Montag being a fireman in Bradbury’s novel, however, does not mean extinguishing burning materials, but rather setting things on fire. Mostly, this relates to books, which are prohibited in Montag’s America. As described by Bradbury, firemen serve as a futuristic analogue of the medieval inquisition, which burns books and sometimes their owners as well. Montag never questions the norms adopted by the society in which he lives—he simply does his job.

    One evening, as he returns home from work, he suddenly sees a strange girl following him. When they start talking, the fireman notices that this girl, Clarisse, is different from her peers. She asks him questions that make him anxious, and does not behave the way people in his world usually do. Unlike them, she is a romantic, and lonely. As they are saying goodbye, Clarisse asks Montag if he is happy, but he cannot give an unequivocal answer. Montag goes home, opens the door, and in the darkness of his apartment, attempts to deal with a surge of emotions. Suddenly, he comes to the conclusion that his entire life up to this moment was a kind of a mechanical existence.

    When Montag goes into his bedroom, he sees his wife Mildred lying unconscious in bed with her eyes wide open. She had swallowed too many sleeping pills, though the story is not clear whether it was on purpose or an accident. During recent years, Montag and Mildred have not been too close, each of them were simply living their own lives. Mildred is completely immersed in sitcoms, which are broadcasted through special “parlor walls” that are three TV-screens that substitute for normal walls. Montag simply goes to work, returns home, and then falls asleep. Despite their marriage having become fiction a long time ago, Montag is still worried about his wife and calls for an ambulance. Bradbury emphasizes that in this world, incidents like this overdose have become so regular that a special machine for rapid blood transfusions has been invented. Handymen, not doctors, equipped with these machines come quickly do their job, and leave. Mildred is saved, but the next morning, when Montag asks her why she took so many pills, she denies that she could perform an act deemed as suicidal. She suggests that perhaps she had had too much to drink at a party last night.

    Further communication with Clarisse gradually changes Montag’s outlook. He starts noticing aspects of life he never noticed before, and begins to do simple but spontaneous actions like tasting the rain and laughing. Clarisse tells him about herself and about her visits to a psychiatrist. Bradbury manages to show in a couple of brief words how acts that are perceived as normal by the reader are misperceived as abnormal in Montag’s world of absolute consumerism and shallow entertainment. “The psychiatrist wants to know why I go out and hike around in the forests and watch the birds and collect butterflies,” Clarisse says to Montag (Bradbury 34). When she disappears, her whereabouts are unknown to him for a period of time.

    Events start to change even faster when Montag’s fire brigade goes on a call to burn a house where lots of books are being stored. During the search, Montag unexpectedly finds a book and hides it. He hears a noise and goes to see what it is about. An old lady, living in this house, refuses to abandon it. When the firemen threaten to burn down the place, Montag is the only one who asks her to leave. He even tries to take her from the residence, but she only thanks him, stands in a middle of a kitchen doused with kerosene, and strikes a match.

    At home, Montag is shocked to find out from Mildred that Clarisse is dead: she has been run down by a speeding car a couple of days ago. After the accident, Clarisse’s family moved. The next day, Montag feels sick. He cannot even make himself get up and go to work, so his fire chief, captain Beatty, comes to visit him. Beatty tells him the story of how firemen started burning materials instead of extinguishing them. He emphasizes the harm books may inflict. According to Beatty, books make people think, and people who think always differ from those who do not. He believes minorities should be merged into one and personal differences must be smoothed. “We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man is the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?” Beatty asks (Bradbury 212).

    Through Beatty’s words, the reader comes to understand the significant role firemen in this society assume. “They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior; official censors, judges, and executors. That’s you, Montag, and that’s me” (Bradbury 213). During this speech, while fixing Montag’s pillow, Mildred finds a book hidden underneath it. She shows it to Beatty, but he says that it is a common happening among firemen to become interested in the materials they usually burn. He gives Montag 24 hours to burn the book or it will be done by the fire department.

    Montag understands what Beatty tried to tell him, but it is too late for him to quit. He thinks books might have the answers that could save this ignorant, apathetic society he lives in—so he starts to look for people who share his new outlook. He suddenly remembers and contacts Faber: an old, former English professor. The fireman gives the professor the book, the New Testament, perhaps the last correct version of it on the entire continent. It contains the actual and undisturbed word of God, not the one where Jesus advertises goods and products. Faber explains to Montag the importance of literature, its role in shaping one’s outlook, and its meaning for humanity. They establish a constant link with the help of a small transmitter, which Montag plugs into his ear. Now he can hear the professor and uses his guidance, and Faber can receive information about what is going on outside his house.

    A bit confused by all this new knowledge, Montag returns home where Mildred is hosting guests. Despite Faber’s warnings, Montag makes an attempt to awaken the consciousness of his wife and her friends by reading them some poetry. They understand nothing. The next day, when Montag comes to the firehouse, captain Beatty informs him about an urgent call. Though Montag does not know it, Mildred has informed the firemen that her husband is keeping books at home. The fire brigade drives through the whole city, then finally stops near Montag’s house. Beatty orders Montag to burn the place down with his own hands.

    After Montag disobeys, Beatty taunts him. He then discovers the transmitter that Faber gave to Montag. He plans to deal with the professor as well, but Montag suddenly points his flamethrower towards Beatty and pushes the trigger, burning him alive. Montag then fights the firehouse’s mechanical dog: a robot designed to hunt down and kill runaways. Montag burns it with his flamethrower, but before it malfunctions, the hound manages to bite him. In despair, Montag runs to Faber’s place, where they see on TV that Montag has become the target of a manhunt. Another mechanical hound is after him. Bradbury describes how this dramatic, tragic hounding of a man is transformed into another entertainment for this hedonistic, blasé society. Helicopters, with TV-operators on board, fly over the city, providing the middlebrows sitting in front of their monitors a nerve-tickling spectacle.

    Faber instructs Montag to run away from the city and seek out a group of enthusiasts, who had quit living in the consumerist society and memorized books, or parts of books, in order to keep them from vanishing. Montag manages to knock the hound of his scent by crossing a river and escapes. Once more Bradbury manages to convey a lot of emotions with only a few words. In order to satisfy the TV-audience, a random victim is chosen instead of Montag. As hundreds of thousands of people all over the country watch, a robot immerses a poisonous needle into the body of an innocent victim.

    When Montag finally gets out of the city, jet bombers fly over it and drop atomic bombs, totally destroying the place where Montag has spent his whole life. He is lucky enough to find the people Faber was talking about—a group of exiles led by a man named Granger. Montag finds out every person in the group, in addition to a real name, has the name of a book they have memorized. After they talk and eat, Granger’s group, together with Montag, sets forth toward the ruins of the city to help rebuild a new society.

    References:

    Longman, Barbara. Dystopian at Its Best. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.

    Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Saddle Brush Press, 2011. Print.

    essay about books , essay about life , essay on politics

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    There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury

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    Ray Bradbury’s short story, “There Will Come Soft Rains,” set in a quiet Californian suburb during the month of August 2026, ultimately develops into a struggle between nature and technology. As the nearby city of Allendale lies silently in a pile of rubble and ash, a single house stands alone, existing within itself. The world around this lone house is very disturbing, yet serene, and creates a contrasting aura for the reader as he learns of tale’s message. As the reader confronts the living house, he is greeted with many futuristic and fantastical ideas that “become tragic symbols for man’s dreams and hopes gone awry”. He is also exposed to the image of the fate of humans if technology continues to take over our lives. This idea relates to the theme of the story by showing an example of how a benefactor can quickly become an archenemy. What may one day help us, technology for example, may another day destroy us.

    The story opens on a serene summer morning. One house is left standing after a huge disaster, probably of some nuclear force, destroyed the rest of the city. The house keeps living in its own world as if nothing ever happened, making breakfast for its family and readying the car for the usual morning commute. Computerized voices heard throughout the house remind the inhabitants of appointments, birthdays, and holidays. The reader thinks this day is not unlike any other and that all is serene until he reads of the disastrous condition covering the remainder of the surrounding world. Still, the house keeps going as if it is the Energizer Bunny. Voices flowing out of the front door query surviving animals, “‘who goes there? What’s the password?’”. The animals that seek the house as refuge from the disaster are turned away as the abode shuts itself up to quietly live out the rest of its existence.

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    Now, the reader may infer that the house is simply an entity within itself; however, the reader is shown signs of earlier existence in the house. He stumbles upon the description of silhouettes, belonging to a family playing in their yard, that have been blasted into the paint of the house. They serve as another symbol to the fate of human existence due to the fault of technology. The silhouettes add to the house’s character by showing the reader the people that it housed and illustrate theme by showing the reader a victim of something that was once thought to be a good thing. Although there are no human characters, the anthromorphic house is considered the main character. Productivity, reliability, and good programming characterize the abode, but these features are all for naught since there is no one present to take advantage of them. The house is personified and shows the reader that it keeps on living even though nobody is left to depend on the house.

    At this point, the family dog arrives at the front door. It is described as being “once huge and fleshy, but now gone to bone and covered with sores”. The house recognizes the pet’s pathetic whimper and lets him in. Sadly, his entrance does not produce sympathy from a loving family. Instead, it merely generates computerized mice zipping angrily behind him cleaning up his unpremeditated mess. This occurrence displays the ironic characteristics of the house, as it acts human, but cannot have any emotional feeling. The dog then goes alone into a room, where it passes away, and computerized “maids” retrieve his body and take it to the incinerator. The author describes the dark furnace as an “evil Baal in a dark corner,” which is an allusion to an evil god mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. From here, the reader ventures into the nursery.

    Many animals of different colors represent color archetypes that symbolize hope for a new beginning, serenity, and peace, which are all associated with infants, the primary users of the nursery. A light voice softly permeates through the study. “‘Mrs. McClellan, which poem would you like this evening?’” Since there is no reply, the voice goes on to explain that it will choose a random poem by the resident’s favorite author, Sara Teasdale. Ironically, Sara Teasdale, a well-known American poet, committed suicide in 1933. This is one of the most dramatically ironic points in the story; the effect of stress on her life represents the effect of technology on humans. The poem, which ties in the theme of the short story, describes how nature will move on and stay alive, even after the disappearance of humans. Then, the awaiting cigar and chairs are drawn away, the house ready for its next command.

    The next command, however, never comes. Nature enters the serene technological Shangri-la, bringing a tree branch crashing into the kitchen window. A large fire erupts, which represents the constantly burning battle between technology and humans. The house attempts to save itself, nearly
    prevailing, but then nature takes the lead and defeats the house, demonstrating theme once again and depicting the archetype of “The Fall.” The incredible house, once a paradise, becomes a flat pile of nothing overnight. These events occur at night, representing death of humanity and darkness from the results of technology. The overall representation in this piece is the fact that nature will eventually prevail over technology. The house symbolizes the mechanistic world that will eventually destroy humankind if we do not control what we do with our technology. It also illustrates how machinery can never replace humans, ironically represented by the house, which has human instincts, but proves it to be only an imitation of human interactions with nature.

    Utilizing tone, Bradbury shows the reader his ideas of humans’ ignorance of technology through this piece. He also tells the audience his views of technology as an interesting, yet dangerous thing. The reader should realize the seriousness of this problem and how technology can obliterate the human race. Should this happen, nature will start itself over again and the cycle will continue unless we stop it. The story allows the reader to use his or her imagination to see how humans have created monsters that cannot only destroy us, but also destroy much of nature along with us.

    The house, personified as the protagonist, has many small parts working to keep it in homeostasis, but eventually falls victim to its own lack of balance with the natural world. All of these things confirm that things can work together for the benefit of either good or evil. In one editor’s views, “the central irony is the fact that humans have been destroyed rather than saved by their own technology”. The story indicates that even the highest level of technology can never work as well in balance as nature. Although many currently believe technology plays an important part in Earth’s future, it may in turn ruin it.

    Work Cited

    Bradbury, Ray. “There Will Come Soft Rains.” The Martian Chronicles. New York:

    Bantam Books, 1967.

    Johnson, Wayne L. Ray Bradbury. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House,

    2001.

    Mogen, David. Ray Bradbury. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1986.

    “There Will Come Soft Rains.” Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale Research, 1997.

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