Fahrenheit 451 Quotations

From "The Hearth and the Salamander" "You're not like the others. I've seen a few; I know. When I talk, you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night. The others would never do that."

  Clarisse makes this statement when talking to Montag at the beginning of the novel. This signals to the reader an important part of the novel: Guy Montag's struggle to be an individual in a society that values sameness. From early in the novel, Montag is established as someone who is not quite like everyone else. Clarisse, someone who is very clearly unique, sees this in him. Her recognition of him as someone different starts him on a journey of self-discovery.

"We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man 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."

  Here, Captain Beatty-who sometimes seems almost like the voice of their society- warns Montag of the dangers of books. His lecture allows the reader to see what all the fuss is about books. People believe they are as dangerous as a "loaded" gun because they make people think. Additionally, as Beatty asserts, this society is wary of individuals, insisting instead it is safer for everyone to be alike.

"The important thing for you to remember, Montag, is we're the Happiness Boys... you and I and the others. We stand against the small tide of those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought. We have our fingers in the dike. Hold steady. Don't let the torrent of melancholy and dreary philosophy drown our world."

  Montag asserts that the firemen are the "Happiness Boys," meaning that they are responsible for maintaining the peace in their world. Again, he paints books as villainous, asserting they are a torrent of maladies just waiting to be released into the world while firemen are the only things holding them back. The idea that the firemen are the "Happiness Boys" is ironic, considering that Montag realizes in this chapter that he is very, very unhappy.

From "The Sieve and the Sand" "We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren't happy. Something's missing. I looked around. The only thing I positively knew was gone was the books I'd burned in ten or twelve years. So I thought books might help."

  Speaking to Faber, Montag describes how he feels that something is missing from life, even though he knows that he should be happy. He concludes that the lack of books, because they are the only thing missing from their world, must be what is making him unhappy. Thus, he seeks to find out more about books in order to try and regain happiness.

"Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores."

  These words, spoken by Faber, are a stark contrast to the way that Captain Beatty describes books. Faber sees the value in them, sees their quality. He explains to Montag that it's not actually books he has been longing for, but rather the information the books contain. The idea that the books have "texture" and "pores" suggest that they add variety to an otherwise flat, boring existence. They are not dangerous, according to Faber, but vital to life.

From "Burning Bright" "It's perpetual motion; the thing man wanted to invent but never did. . . . Its real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences . . . clean, quick, sure; nothing to rot later. Antibiotic, aesthetic, practical."

  Beatty speaks these words right before Montag burns him to death with the flamethrower. Beatty is pondering over the beauty and power of fire, seeing it as something powerful and practical, as well as something that destroys responsibilities and consequences. Ironically enough, Montag then uses fire to do just that: destroy Beatty and the possibility of consequences for his book-harboring.

"The sun burnt every day. It burnt Time . . . Time was busy burning the years and the people anyway, without any help from him. So if he burnt things with the firemen and the sun burnt Time, that meant that everything burnt!"

  In this quotation, Montag muses on the nature of the sun. Again, this passage shows the power of fire. As the sun burns brightly, ushering in each new day, it burns away time, which essentially burns away everything in existence. This is a revelation for Montag, as he realizes that its not the place of the firemen to burn everything-that's the job of the sun. He now questions the nature of fire-something that had been engrained in his existence until he left the firemen. In questioning fire, he is questioning his own identity.

Related Links:

Literature Summaries
Fahrenheit 451
Chapter 3 Burning Bright

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