Montag’s struggled to cope with what he saw

          Montag’s job greatly influences his change as a character. This is evident when Montag is on the job and he witnesses an aged woman commit suicide over losing her books. He questions the woman’s motives and wonders why she valued them so much, “There must be something in the books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing” (Bradbury 48). Witnessing the suicide had a profound effect on Montag. He struggled to cope with what he saw and he begins to question what is in the books that make them so precious. Prior to this event, Montag never entertained the thought that perhaps the books he mindlessly destroys could be valuable. As a result, he evidently develops some interest for books. Additionally, Montag’s words foreshadow the impending conflict he will develop against society when he realizes their worth. Soon after the incident, Montag thinks more about books, Last night I thought about all the kerosene I’ve used in the past ten years. And I thought about books. And for the first time I realized that a man was behind each one of the books. A man had to think them up. A man had to take a long time to put them down on paper. And I’d never even thought that thought before. It took some man a lifetime maybe to put some of his thoughts down, looking around at the world and life, and then I came along in two minutes and boom! it’s all over (qtd. in Shmoop). Montag has only ever destroyed books, but he has never stopped to consider what books really are. Moreover, Montag’s acknowledgement of the time and thinking it takes to write books is important, given both terms generally mean nothing in his stale society. Furthermore, Montag feels as if he is ending something good or valuable by burning literature. It is apparent Montag feels pity for those whose work he has burned and he begins to associate his job with immorality. When Montag speaks of how writers are “looking around at the world and life”, he is indirectly expressing his desire to do the same. In light of all this, Montag’s views have changed distinctly from the beginning of the novel.           More evidence of Montag’s change is presented when his perception of fire mirrors his personal development. Montag’s initial opinion of fire is shown in the opening lines of the novel, “It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed” (1). Montag is satisfied with his life and he takes pleasure in his work, which is to burn books. It is evident he views fire as simply a tool to carry out his job. Furthermore, this reflection demonstrates Montag’s simplistic way of thinking. He does not have a true understanding of his work, he only sees the fire and destruction. Montag later discovers good can come from fires,”That small motion, the white and red color, a strange fire because it meant a different thing to him. It was not burning, it was warming” (139). Previously, Montag has only ever seen fire as a means to devastation. He has never viewed it in any other light, especially given the fact he was a fireman and fire was a symbol of destruction for the duration of the novel. However, Montag has developed his character and he finally sees fire differently, similarly to when he realizes the good that can come out of books.           At the exposition of the novel, Montag meets Clarisse, who causes him to change his way of thinking and reflect on his life. Clarisse encourages Montag to think during their conversation,”You laugh when I haven’t been funny and you answer right off. You never stop to think what I’ve asked you” (6). Meeting Clarisse was the inciting event of the narrative. In Montag’s current state, he exemplifies the average person in his society, one who lives life without thought. Clarisse is an anomaly in this brainwashed society and she challenges Montag to think and to consider things more, which will later greatly affect him. This cites the beginning of Montag’s character transformation. Clarisse then asks him a very simple question about his life, “Are you happy?” (7), to which Montag says to himself, “Of course I’m happy. What does she think? I’m not?” (8), which finally leads to “He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself” (9). Montag lives the life the state wants him to live; without thought and with happiness. However, the happiness is not genuine. The idea that everyone should be happy is an idea pushed onto the people by the state. Montag is essentially a pawn to the state, among everyone else, other than intellectuals and he is yet to realize his true feelings. As a result, Montag initially finds it odd that Clarisse would have thought that he is not happy. Clarisse’s question prompts Montag to reassess his life and he quickly discovers that he is in fact not happy. This ultimately changes his thinking regarding both his life and society.           In the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Montag embarks on a journey where he discovers a new meaning to his life and he sets out on a dangerous road to fight the laws set against literature. Along the way, readers witness an incredible transformation as Montag develops to become a hero in his own right. This can be seen when Montag’s job has a significant impact on his character, when his perception of fire corresponds with how he has changed and when he reflects on his life and changes his mindset. Guy Montag is an extraordinary character, as he demonstrates a great capacity for change and he continues to fight for what he believes in.

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