Fahrenheit 451 Embedded Assessment
Change is inevitable, and when you are constantly surrounded by like-minded people someone is bound to snap. This is exactly what happens in the novel “Fahrenheit 451.”Guy Montag, the troubled protagonist, underwent a variety of changes that prompted him to develop as a character and a human being. For Montag, he started the novel as a submissive and narrow-minded follower. Throughout the novel, he developed into a rebellious leader who can make his own decisions.
The protagonist of this novel, Guy Montag, expands his thinking and opposes the authority due to the conflict he faces against his dystopian society. A prime example of this is at the beginning of the novel when Montag takes his job with pride and burns books with perpetual devotion. For instance, on page two, after Montag burned down a house that contained books he felt no remorse. He felt prideful, “While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning. Montag grinned the fierce grin of all men signed and driven back by flame. He knew that when he returned to the firehouse, he might wink at himself, a minstrel man, burnt-corked, in the mirror.”This passage demonstrates Montag’s passion for his job. It shows he is proud of his occupation and does not feel any remorse for any of the people he harmed as a result. He is oblivious to the corrupt society around him. Even though he willingly signed up for this job. Montag’s prideful feelings toward his job begin to wane as he develops as a character. Instead, he realizes he can no longer continue burning books. For example, after Montag encounters the task of burning his own house, he thinks to himself, “I can’t do it, he thought. How can I go at this new assignment, how can I go on burning things? I can’t go in this place.”This response contrasts with Montag’s feelings about being a firefighter at the beginning of the novel. To begin with, he took pride in his job and was satisfied knowing he was burning books. Now, Montag cannot think about burning another book, let alone go through with the action of burning another house. This change in his actions and thought process is due to Montag gradually taking off his rose-colored glasses and realizing he is intentionally inflicting harm by doing his job. To conclude, the protagonist, Montag, has an awakening allowing him to understand that burning books is morally wrong. This permits him to change from a prideful firefighter into a self-aware bibliophile.
Throughout the novel, Montag undergoes many changes resulting in his curiosity and questioning the society he lives in. He starts off the novel as a narrow-minded and unconcerned firefighter. Evidence to prove this was during a conversation with Clarisse after Montag got off work. Specifically his response, on page five, after Clarisse asks Montag if he ever reads any of the books he burns, “He laughed. ‘That’s against the law!’”In the exposition of the novel, the thought of reading a book never even crossed Montag’s mind. Even though he had been a firefighter for twenty years, meaning he was constantly surrounded by books. Montag knew reading books was against the law, so he didn’t read them. It was as straightforward as that. Montag never had any additional curiosity which led him to wonder what knowledge books held. He just accepted the fact that it was illegal to read them. This proves Montag starts off the novel void of curiosity. Quite soon after this, he reflects on Clarisse’s words, which allow him to expand his mind and realize the society he lives in is corrupt. An example of this is on page 48 after Montag watches an elderly woman willingly proceed into the fire created by firemen attempting to get rid of her books. Montag states in a conversation with Mildred, “‘You weren’t there, you didn’t see,’ he said. ‘There must be something in 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.’”This excerpt displays the protagonist, Montag, changing as a result of the conflict with the dystopian society around him. This is because he is questioning the government’s ban on books after he witnesses the woman burn herself alive. Montag begins thinking deeper about what the government is withholding within the books. Allowing his curiosity to take over against the wishes of the dystopian society. This passage shows Montag developing as a character because he is willing to push the boundaries of normal thinking and learns to be curious like Clarisse. To conclude, Montag’s experience with the woman sparks a curiosity within him which only continues to grow as the novel progresses.
Throughout the novel, Fahrenheit 451, Montag transitions from being submissive to defiant due to the obstacles he has encountered within the dystopian society. When Montag is working with Faber, he begins to realize he has never been independent and has constantly done what he is advised. Meaning, he has been a follower his whole life. He specifically states this on page 88 in a conversation with Faber, “‘I’m not thinking. I’m just doing like I’m told, like always. You said get the money and I got it. I didn’t really think of it myself. When do I start working things out on my own?... I don’t want to change sides and just be told what to do.’”This excerpt shows Montag beginning to come to terms with the fact that he has been a follower his whole life, submissive without the opportunity to think independently. In the past, he was fine with doing what he was told without questioning it, he enjoyed it. However, now he wants to be independent, or at least start to think on his own. As Montag develops throughout the story, he starts to think and act on his own. He begins to do things he never did in the past, starting with stealing a book for the first time and reading it. A significant point in the book portraying Montag as defiant is when he burns Beatty. On page 113, Beatty states, “‘We’ll trace this and drop in on your friend.’ ‘No!’ said Montag. He twitched the safety catch on the flamethrower. Beatty glanced instantly at Montag’s fingers and his eyes widened the faintest bit. Montag saw the surprise there and himself glanced at his hands to see what new thing they had done.”In this quote, Beatty threatens to trace the device in Montag’s ear back to Faber, insinuating he would most likely injure him. This leads Montag to feel protective towards Faber. As a result, Montag acts on his own and burns Beatty. All of the bottled-up emotions seem to detonate as he burns Beatty like Beatty burnt the books. Montag made a drastic decision on his own in hopes to protect the closest thing he has to a friend, Faber. Montag knew Beatty was going to continue to cause harm if he didn’t do anything. Consequently, he stepped up and did what he believed was necessary to make sure Beatty didn’t injure anybody else. Even if it meant putting himself in a more dangerous position. This shows Montag has not only transitioned into a leader but a hero as well.
In conclusion, everything evolves, including Guy Montag. The protagonist of the novel, Montag, began the novel as a submissive and narrow-minded follower. He was constantly surrounded by people with uniform views. Until he met Clarrise and Faber. Two individuals who influenced him to change into a rebellious leader who can make his own decisions.