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What is the main conflict in Fahrenheit 451?

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steroids1o2 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 4, 2012 at 9:08 PM via web

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What is the main conflict in Fahrenheit 451?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 12, 2012 at 11:24 PM (Answer #1)

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The main conflict in Fahrenheit 451 is Man versus Society. Montag is a typical citizen, living and working in a society that has bled individuality out of all personal interactions. People only connect with their television screens, not with each other, at least on any meaningful level. Montag, after meeting an individualist (Clarisse), begins to develop individuality himself, and finds himself stifled by the society in which he lives. Everyone around him is conditioned to act and react in a certain way, and Montag is pushing across the stream instead of going with it. He starts to truly realize this after he meets with Faber:

"You said get the money and I got it. I didn't really think of it myself. When do I start working things out on my own?"

"You've started already, by saying what you just said. You'll have to take me on faith."

"I took the others on faith! "

"Yes, and look where we're headed."
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

Society, in the form of the firemen, Chief Beatty, and Montag's wife Mildred, all pressure him to give up his dreams of individualism and just go with the flow, live like everyone else, and forget that he could live life by his own standards and dreams. Instead, he pushes back so hard that he breaks his own life, escapes the city, and then moves on to try and influence society in a better, more positive manner.


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