Discuss how you feel about the stands the author and characters take in "Fahrenheit 451".  List examples of the themes mentioned below.Conformity vs individuality  

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This question seems to be an essay prompt, so I hope that you can form some of your own opinions on how you feel about Bradbury's stance on some of these issues.  I can't help you to decide whether you feel Bradbury is right or wrong, but I can help you to clarify what Bradbury's stance is on at least one of those themes.  The guidelines for this website allow for one question a day, so I will help you out with the first theme, and I suggest submitting the others on separate days.

In "Fahrenheit 451" Bradbury showed a strong belief in individuality, and how expressing individuality is healthy.  He indicated that mass conformity only led to misery, unhappiness, repression from the government, and the inability to think for oneself.  The best examples of the two extremes are Clarisse and Mildred.  Clarisse was an individual. She questioned everything, thought for herself, and as a result, was very happy.  Mildred on the other hand, did not think for herself; instead, she consumed massive amounts of media that kept her thoughts at a very shallow level, she conformed to society's beliefs about family, relationships, and what life should be, and, was so miserable that she attempted to kill herself.  The message Bradbury is sending is clear:  individuality and thinking for oneself is the the key to happiness and fulfillment, whereas blind conformity with no thoughts or individuality leads to misery and annihilation of any sense of self.

Clarisse--and self-fulfilled individuals--exude happiness, and a large part of that is because they think and question things.  Clarisse states, "sometimes I just sit and think," and she likes to figure people out, and why they are the way that they are.  Whereas Mildred, or conformed individuals, don't care.  Instead, they go out and drive their cars fast.  And, Montag's society embraces and encourages such behavior.  Beatty tells Montag that his society likes to feed them a lot of useless information so that "they'll feel they're 'brilliant'...and they'll be happy" because they'll feel like they're learning, but they're not.  He states,

"if you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one.  Better yet, give him none."

Control of information means control of thinking, and that is the ultimate goal of conformity in Montag's society.

In the end, it is the individuals, the thinkers, and the people who stood apart and refused to conform that ultimately survive the wars of Montag's world.  And it will be them that fixes things, and rebuilds civilization.  That alone indicates that Bradbury believes in individuality, and thinks it is the key to happiness and success.  I hope that those thoughts help a bit; good luck!

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