Built by Destruction
In the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury the character Guy Montag is a fireman who only tasks in his life is to burn all books. Montag thought he had the ideal job, and relationships with people, but one night changes everything. In the novel, they receive a tip saying that there was a reason to suspect that an Old Lady had been harboring illegal books in her home, but when they arrive, the Old Lady would rather burn with her books than live without them. Montag witnesses the Old Lady die which causes him to take a book from the Old Lady’s house, reevaluate his career and relationships, and cause a revolt in the city.
When Guy Montag witnesses the Old Lady choosing to burn with her books, it causes the curiosity in him to be fueled, until his curiosity was just as big as the raging fires that were set to burn the books. His curiosity over why she would rather die than live without her books was so strong that he had no control over his actions or body, “His hand, with a brain of its own, with a conscience and a curiosity in each trembling finger had turned thief. Now it plunged the book back under his arm.” (Bradbury 41). That was the beginning of the effects the Old Lady had on
him, the beginning of his journey. The Old Lady cause him to want to know what in the books were worth dying for, and what in his life was worth living for.
After the burning of the Old Lady, Montag begins to reevaluate his career and relationships, he needed to know if the books he harbored in his home were worth the loss of everything he had worked for, and all the relationships he had built. The Old Lady was more than willing to give up everything she had in this life rather than not have her books. Montag begins to realize he no longer wants to be the man who destroys books he begins to think to himself, “I’ll never come in again, thought Montag.” (Bradbury 66). He used to be so proud to be represented by the salamander, but the Old Lady caused him to question his happiness with his career choice. It causes him to reevaluate his relationship choices also, it caused him to be unsure in his relationships, in his life,“I don’t know. We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren’t happy.” (Bradbury 84). The Old Lady makes him realize that something is missing in his life, the Old Lady causes him to think maybe that something missing could be found in the books she was so willing to die for.
Montag began to cause a revolt in the city after witnessing the death of the Old Lady. Montag realizes only after the death of the Old Lady that something in the civilization needed to change. He realizes that their happiness was superficial, that their relationships with others were only surface level. Guy Montag comes up with a plan with a professor named Faber, “Plant the books, turn in an alarm, and see the fireman’s houses burn.” (Bradbury 88). Montag
began seeing things how the Old Lady saw things right before she died, there was something in the books that Montag needed the world to see. There was something in the books that the Old Lady was willing to die for. Everything started when Montag watched helpless while the Old Lady died. The old Lady was the beginning of a revolt that was long overdue.
Everything began when the Old Lady burned, It showed Montag there might be something in the books. Something more in books than what he was told there was, something that could cause him to feel more than he felt in his everyday life. That Old Lady showed him there was more to his life than waking up and going through the daily actions without any actually feeling. With her death she shows him that though fireman are trying to save people by burning the books they are losing society as a whole. The firemen don’t want to see people having to feel emotions like sadness and misery, but the people of the society they’ve created don’t feel anything. The Old woman rather die than stay living in an unfeeling world. Montag was not only trying to save the books he was trying to save himself from a life of everlasting numbness and the Old Lady gave him the opportunity, motivation, and the clarity he’d never had to begin to do that.
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