In Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, the main character Guy Montag makes a complete metamorphosis. He goes from hating books to loving them. He changes from a stolid character, incognizant of the activities in his surroundings, to a person conscious of everything, so enlightened by the new world he is exposed to. There are many stimuli in Montag’s society that help him change. A major reason is the people in his life. The people who influence him to change are Montag’s wife Mildred, his next door neighbor Clarisse, and his boss, the chief of police, Beatty. The first personal influence on Montag is Clarisse.
She is a very positive influence on him. Clarisse is the young, teenage girl, who moves next door, with her uncle, to Montag. Clarisse is classified as an odd person, but she is a very friendly girl. She loves to talk to Montag, ask him questions about himself, and she loves to talk about the world and its wonderful sites. She is also very perceptive which is shown in this excerpt from the novel: “… I like to watch people. Sometimes I ride the subway all day and look at them and listen to them, I just want to figure out who they are and what they want and where they’re going…
Or I listen at soda fountains… People talk about nothing… ” (32-33). Clarisse teaches Montag to look around him, look at the people for who they really are. Montag never did that before. Clarisse helps him look around and see everything, from the smallest snowflake to the prettiest flower. She shows him, with a simple dandelion, that Montag isn’t really in love with Mildred anymore. He doesn’t realize it then, but later he does. Montag never really thinks about what is happening in his life, or why it seems he never shows much emotion towards anything.
Clarisse teaches Montag to look around and to pay attention to what is really important in life, just not what his society tells him. The second influence that I chose was Mildred. Mildred is a negative influence on him, trying to push him away. Mildred is his wife of a few years. She does not know who she really is and lives in an illusionary world with her television shows. She is a very down person always Montag feel badly about himself. One night she overdoses on sleeping tablets and Montag starts to see that she is slipping away from him.
He is so confused because she tries to ignore it ever happened. “… One, two, three, four, five, Clarisse, Mildred, uncle, fire, sleeping tablets, men disposable tissue, coattails, blow, wad, flush… Rain. The storm. The uncle laughing… The whole world pouring down… ” (19). After this incident he looks at Mildred in a different light. He sees her as this whole other person that he does not even know.
Another way she separates herself from Montag is through her “family”, which is a television show. “… Millie, does your ‘family’ love you, love you very much, love you with all their heart and soul, Millie? ‘… ‘Why would you ask such a silly question like that? ‘… ‘If you see that dog outside, give him a kick for me. ‘… ” (83-84). She blocks everything and everyone out around her and lives within the show. Mildred opens Montag’s eyes to the real world and shows him that most people are uncaring and self-centered. The third and final personal influence on Montag that I have chose is Beatty. Beatty is the chief of firemen and he is very knowledgeable.
He finds out that Montag has books and that is when the whole climax begins. Beatty is an unintentional influence, meaning he has no idea that he is changing Montag. He pushes and pushes Montag to his limits and Montag rebels. He tries to tell Montag that books aren’t good and that nothing is good about them. “At least one fireman gets an itch. What do the books say, he wonders. Oh, to scratch that itch, eh? Well, Montag, take my word for it, I’ve had to read a few in my time, to know what I was about, and the books say nothing…
You come away lost. ” (66). Beatty really wants to discourage Montag from books, but it just makes him go in the opposite direction. Beatty helps Montag change for the better without even noticing. Many people influence us in our lives. They can be positive influences, or negative influences. Montag changes for the better in the novel Fahrenheit 451, because of the people around him. At the end of the book, after he escapes the authorities, he is reborn into a whole different person. He becomes a better person aware of the real things in life.
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