“No one knows anyone” (Bradbury, 20). Imagine living in a world where everyone is a mindless robot that is brainwashed by the government. In this world, loyalty and obedience are more important than imagination and creativity.
Dystopian novels are written when authors want to express his/her opinion about the government, society, or even technology. Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel written by Ray Bradbury in 1951, which was during the Cold War (the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union). During the Cold War, citizens of the United States of America feared communists, also known as subversives, wiping out American society. Not only did Bradbury feared communists taking over his country, he was also worried about televisions (technology) because he thought that the way people communicate and entertain themselves could change in a negative way.
People might claim that the theme of this book is ‘dangers of governments’ (because of the Cold War) or ‘dangers of technology’ (because Bradbury was afraid of the negative changes that could happen). However, in my opinion, the theme of the book is ‘the importance of truth and individuality’ because there are numerous pieces of evidence in the book that supports my claim.
Clarisse was the one and the only individual that made Montag question himself; made him curious. She was different from everyone in the society. And it was her individuality that changed Montag to a different person. “Is it true that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?” (12). Clarisse progresses by asking Montag questions that made him ponder. “Are you happy?” (14). Montag’s immediate response was yes. However, Montag realizes that he is not happy when he faces the truth. “He was not happy. He recognized this as the true state of affairs. He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back.” (16).
Clarisse not only made Montag acknowledge that he was not happy. She also showed Montag the truth about the world, where love was just a fantasy. With a dandelion, Clarisse claims that if a person gets rubbed with a dandelion and if it rubs off, the person’s in love. “What a shame”, she said. “You’re not in love with anyone.” (26). At first, Montag refuses to admit that he is not in love with anyone. But then, truth hits him real hard… “The first time we ever met, where was it, and when?” (46). The curiosity that Clarisse implanted in Montag’s brain reached its limit. Montag had to question his wife where they met and when. “I don’t know” (46). Montag realizes that his wife does not even remember where they met for the first time. “And he remembered thinking then that if she died, he was certain he wouldn’t cry… he had begun to cry, not at death but at the thought of not crying at death.” (47). Montag finally realizes the dirty truth about the society he had been living in. All thanks to Clarisse.
“I’m still crazy. The rain feels good. I love to walk in it.” (25). Again, Clarisse shows her distinctness by doing something unique. But this time, it is different. At first, Montag didn’t seem to agree with Clarisse, saying that he would not do that. However, Montag’s growing curiosity made him follow what Clarisse had done. “And then, very slowly, as he walked, he tilted his head back in the rain, for just a few moments, and opened his mouth…” (28). It was creativity and curiosity that was inside Montag now, which I think is the most important evidence that that supports the theme ‘the importance of individuality and truth’.
As I was reading Fahrenheit 451, I realized that I was somehow similar to Guy Montag. Since I was little, I had an issue of not being open-minded. I did not easily believe what someone else told me. However, time played the role of Clarisse. I became mature year by year and I started to admit that I was a person who needed self-improvements. To think back in time, I think it was my friend Jun Young’s individuality that really woke me up. Even though I was not necessarily nice to him, he forgave me every time and he was very patient. He knew that his individuality could make me a better person. As if it was planned, I was shocked by his attitude and I realized that there were people who were actually suffering because of me. Thanks to Jun Young’s patient and forgiving individuality, I can proudly stand straight.
In Fahrenheit 451, it was Clarisse’s individuality and the truth that changed Montag forever. The author, Ray Bradbury, used dandelion and rain as the starting point for Montag realizing the actual problems he had with the society. However, if Clarisse never appeared in Montag’s life, what do you think would happen to Montag?