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How does the common presence of  war affect the society of Fahrenheit 451?

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esme1129 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 18, 2013 at 3:35 AM via web

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How does the common presence of  war affect the society of Fahrenheit 451?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 18, 2013 at 6:04 AM (Answer #1)

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It is clear that the war that this society suffers from has had a massive impact not just physically but also psychologically, as it has affected the way society functions and people interact with each other. What is revealed very early on in the book is the way that people themselves have been changed and that violence has become much more acceptable and almost expected than previously. Note, for example, the following quote, taken early on from the book:

I'm afraid of children my own age. They kill each other. Did it always used to be that way? My uncle says no. Six of my friends have been shot in the last year alone. Ten of them died in car wrecks. I'm afraid of them and they don't like me because I'm afraid. My uncle says his grandfather remembered when children didn't kill each other. But that was a long time ago when they had things different.

Note how children not "killing each other" is only a dim and distant memory, "a long time ago when they had things different." Clearly the endless war and feeling of fear that is prevalent in this dystopian society is something that has made violence so acceptable that it is not considered strange, and people expect children to "kill each other" and to die in accidents. With problems such as this, it points to an acceptance of violence which is incredibly disturbing. This is something that is highlighted too by the despair that so many citizens suffer from, as shown when Mildred tries to commit suicide and the men who come to pump out her stomach and clean her blood tell Montag how busy they are.

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