In Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, the main character Guy Montag makes a complete metamorphosis. He goes from hating books to liking them. He changes from a stolid character, incognizant of the activities in his surroundings, to a person conscious of everything, enlightened by the new world he is exposed to. There are many events that take place in this change in Montag. Montag’s first awakening was when he meets Clarisse, a 17 year old outcast in his society. She asks him if he is happy. At that point, he is in denial and says yes.
That was when she first started questioning him. She also asks Montag if he and his wife Mildred love each other. At first, he denies it by saying “I am, very much in love! ” (20) He asks Mildred where they first met, showing he was really affected by this question. When she gives him no response, he feels a little hurt. This shows me that Clarisse almost stirred a sudden realization that something was missing in his life. I also think that his question to Mildred shows that he was still in a bit of denial. He was almost trying to find a light in their dark relationship.
It also shows the effect of Clarisse’s questions on Montag’s sudden change of thinking towards his life and the society around him. Before Montag met Clarisse, he was passive, like everyone else in his dystopian society. Later on, Montag has a full realization that he is not happy. He realizes this after a number of events. Mildred almost dies, he figures out that all firemen look alike, and he becomes conscious of the fact that he really doesn’t know Mildred at all. At this point of the story, I think Montag has finally completely come to terms with the fact that he needs to do something with his life – he needs some change.
This is shown with the quote “Maybe the books can get us half out of this cave. ” (70) At this point, Montag knows that he needs something more than just Mildred and his boring job. When he goes to burn books at an old lady’s house but watches her burn instead, there is a new inquisitiveness that sparks in him. What are in those books? He wants to find out. The third change I saw in him was the revelation the books bring upon him. How he changes from a person conformed to his surroundings, to almost a rebel. He realized that he got the change through those books.
He got the happiness he longed for through those books. This is shown in the book through the quote “It’s strange, I don’t miss her, it’s strange I don’t feel much of anything. ” (148). This shows that Millie did not make him happy. Also, he asks Faber to help him understand the books. He feels like if he memorizes them fast enough, he can remember them. This is not the case however. It was like filling the sieve with the sand. No matter how fast you do it, it won’t be filled. He eventually had to turn to Faber for help in understanding the books so that he could retain the information instead of draining through.
Throughout the plot, he progressively grows and alters; by the end of the book, he is a totally different person. He has learned that life is made of a construction-destruction cycle NOT by reading it in the Bible, but by experiencing it. He used to think fire was a damaging; then he sees it as a positive force (warming, not burning). He’s seen books destroyed, now he sees them being rebuilt in the minds of Granger’s posse. He’s seen the city devastated, and it is with hope that he gets off the ground and continues toward it.