Today we finished reading the first chapter of Fahrenheit 451. You can find the section of the chapter posted below.
Aim: What do you believe is Bradbury’s overall message to the reader in the first chapter of the novel?
Homework: Due Wednesday, October 30th
-Imagine that you are Montag.
-What is Bradbury’s overall message to his main character?
-Cite evidence from the book that proves your point.
*Notice that this homework does not have a length requirement. However, it does require that you cite evidence from the story to support your answer. You do not have to use quotations, simply use your knowledge of what Montag has experienced throughout the novel. The more you write will show how much thought you actually put into the homework. It’s important that you consider this because I cannot tell you, or anybody else for that matter, what your thoughts are. The key is to be thoughtful and as thorough as possible in your answer.
Focus Questions: Consider these questions while reading the passage.
Why do you think Montag is hearing Clarisse’s words in his head even thought Captain Beatty just gave him that very long speech? What does that say about Montag’s overall state of mind?
What does Mildred use the beetle for? What does that say about her? What does it say about the Mildreds of this society?
What Montag ays that he’s not happy, Mildred responds by saying, “I am. And proud of it.” Is Mildred actually happy? Does Mildred believe that she is happy? Where does this belief come from? Is it possible for someone to believe that they are happy when they actually aren’t?
Think about everything you know about how Montag and Mildred interact in the previous sections of the book. What is different about this passage’s interactions? What is the symbolic meaning of Mildred saying to Montag, “I’m tired of this junk”?
Notice Montag’s patience with Mildred at the beginning of the chapter and compare it to his first interactions with Clarisse. How has he changed?
Montag watched through the window as Beatty drove away in his gleaming
yellow flame-coloured beetle with the black, char-coloured tyres.
Across the street and down the way the other houses stood with their flat fronts. What was it
Clarisse had said one afternoon? “No front porches. My uncle says there used to be front
porches. And people sat there sometimes at night, talking when they wanted to talk, rocking, and
not talking when they didn’t want to talk. Sometimes they just sat there and thought about things,
turned things over. My uncle says the architects got rid of the front porches because they didn’t
look well. But my uncle says that was merely rationalizing it; the real reason, hidden underneath,
might be they didn’t want people sitting like that, doing nothing, rocking, talking; that was the
wrong kind of social life. People talked too much. And they had time to think. So they ran off
with the porches. And the gardens, too. Not many gardens any more to sit around in. And look atthe furniture. No rocking?chairs any more. They’re too comfortable. Get people up and running
around. My uncle says . . . and . . . my uncle . . . and . . . my uncle . . .” Her voice faded.
Montag turned and looked at his wife, who sat in the middle of the parlour talking to an
announcer, who in turn was talking to her. “Mrs. Montag,” he was saying. This, that and the
other. “Mrs. Montag?” Something else and still another. The converter attachment, which had
cost them one hundred dollars, automatically supplied her name whenever the announcer
addressed his anonymous audience, leaving a blank where the proper syllables could be filled in.
A special spot?wavex?scrambler also caused his televised image, in the area immediately about
his lips, to mouth the vowels and consonants beautifully. He was a friend, no doubt of it, a good
friend. “Mrs. Montag?now look right here.”
Her head turned. Though she quite obviously was not listening.
Montag said, “It’s only a step from not going to work today to not working tomorrow, to not
working at the firehouse ever again.” ,
“You are going to work tonight, though, aren’t you?” said Mildred.
“I haven’t decided. Right now I’ve got an awful feeling I want to smash things and kill things :’
“Go take the beetle.”
“The keys to the beetle are on the night table. I always like to drive fast when I feel that way.
You get it up around ninetyfive and you feel wonderful. Sometimes I drive all night and come
back and you don’t know it. It’s fun out in the country. You hit rabbits, sometimes you hit dogs.
Go take the beetle.”
“No, I don’t want to, this time. I want to hold on to this funny thing. God, it’s gotten big on me. I
don’t know what it is. I’m so damned unhappy, I’m so mad, and I don’t know why I feel like I’m
putting on weight. I feel fat. I feel like I’ve been saving up a lot of things, and don’t know what. I
might even start reading books.”
“They’d put you in jail, wouldn’t they?” She looked at him as if he were behind the glass wall.
He began to put on his clothes, moving restlessly about the bedroom. “Yes, and it might be a
good idea. Before I hurt someone. Did you hear Beatty? Did you listen to him? He knows all the
answers. He’s right. Happiness is important. Fun is everything. And yet I kept sitting there saying
to myself, I’m not happy, I’m not happy.”
“I am.” Mildred’s mouth beamed. “And proud of it.”
“I’m going to do something,” said Montag. “I don’t even know what yet, but I’m going to do
“I’m tired of listening to this junk,” said Mildred, turning from him to the announcer again
Montag touched the volume control in the wall and the announcer was speechless.
“Millie?” He paused. “This is your house as well as mine. I feel it’s only fair that I tell you
something now. I should have told you before, but I wasn’t even admitting it to myself. I have
something I want you to see, something I’ve put away and hid during the past year, now and
again, once in a while, I didn’t know why, but I did it and I never told you.”
He took hold of a straight?backed chair and moved it slowly and steadily into the hall near the
front door and climbed up on it and stood for a moment like a statue on a pedestal, his wife
standing under him, waiting. Then he reached up and pulled back the grille of the
air?conditioning system and reached far back inside to the right and moved still another sliding
sheet of metal and took out a book. Without looking at it he dropped it to the floor. He put his
hand back up and took out two books and moved his hand down and dropped the two books to the floor. He kept moving his hand and dropping books, small ones, fairly large ones, yellow,
red, green ones. When he was done he looked down upon some twenty books lying at his wife’s
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t really think. But now it looks as if we’re in this together.”
Mildred backed away as if she were suddenly confronted by a pack of mice that had come up out
of the floor. He could hear her breathing rapidly and her face was paled out and her eyes were
fastened wide. She said his name over, twice, three times. Then moaning, she ran forward, seized
a book and ran toward the kitchen incinerator.
He caught her, shrieking. He held her and she tried to fight away from him, scratching.
“No, Millie, no! Wait! Stop it, will you? You don’t know . . . stop it!” He slapped her face, he
grabbed her again and shook her.
She said his name and began to cry.
“Millie! “‘ he said. “Listen. Give me a second, will you? We can’t do anything. We can’t burn
these. I want to look at them, at least look at them once. Then if what the Captain says is true,
we’ll burn them together, believe me, we’ll burn them together. You must help me.” He looked
down into her face and took hold of her chin and held her firmly. He was looking not only at her,
but for himself and what he must do, in her face. “Whether we like this or not, we’re in it. I’ve
never asked for much from you in all these years, but I ask it now, I plead for it. We’ve got to
start somewhere here, figuring out why we’re in such a mess, you and the medicine at night, and
the car, and me and my work. We’re heading right for the cliff, Millie. God, I don’t want to go
over. This isn’t going to be easy. We haven’t anything to go on, but maybe we can piece it out
and figure it and help each other. I need you so much right now, I can’t tell you. If you love me at
all you’ll put up with this, twenty?four, forty?eight hours, that’s all I ask, then it’ll be over. I
promise, I swear! And if there is something here, just one little thing out of a whole mess of
things, maybe we can pass it on to someone else.”
She wasn’t fighting any more, so he let her go. She sagged away from him and slid down the
wall, and sat on the floor looking at the books. Her foot touched one and she saw this and pulled
her foot away.
“That woman, the other night, Millie, you weren’t there. You didn’t see her face. And Clarisse.
You never talked to her. I talked to her. And men like Beatty are afraid of her. I can’t understand
it. Why should they be so afraid of someone like her? But I kept putting her alongside the
firemen in the house last night, and I suddenly realized I didn’t like them at all, and I didn’t like
myself at all any more. And I thought maybe it would be best if the firemen themselves were
The front door voice called softly:
“Mrs. Montag, Mrs. Montag, someone here, someone here, Mrs. Montag, Mrs. Montag, someone
They turned to stare at the door and the books toppled everywhere, everywhere in heaps.
“Beatty!” said Mildred.
“It can’t be him.”
“He’s come back!” she whispered.
The front door voice called again softly. “Someone here . . .”
“We won’t answer.” Montag lay back against the wall and then slowly sank to a crouching
position and began to nudge the books, bewilderedly, with his thumb, his forefinger. He was shivering and he wanted above all to shove the books up through the ventilator again, but he
knew he could not face Beatty again. He crouched and then he sat and the voice of the front door
spoke again, more insistently. Montag picked a single small volume from the floor. “Where do
we begin?” He opened the book half?way and peered at it. “We begin by beginning, I guess.”
“He’ll come in,” said Mildred, “and burn us and the books!”
The front door voice faded at last. There was a silence. Montag felt the presence of someone
beyond the door, waiting, listening. Then the footsteps going away down the walk and over the
“Let’s see what this is,” said Montag.
He spoke the words haltingly and with a terrible selfconsciousness. He read a dozen pages here
and there and came at last to this:
” `It is computed that eleven thousand persons have at several times suffered death rather than
submit to break eggs at the smaller end.”‘
Mildred sat across the hall from him. “What does it mean? It doesn’t mean anything! The Captain
was right! ”
“Here now,” said Montag. “We’ll start over again, at the beginning.”