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What are some examples of the conflicts man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs. nature, man...

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Helen3412 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:48 PM via web

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What are some examples of the conflicts man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs. nature, man vs. society, and man vs. god in Fahrenheit 451, parts 2 and 3 of the book? 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:02 PM (Answer #1)

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Montag's transformation is also his conflict with himself. He must fight the ways he has been conditioned to think. He must be bold enough to be more open-minded. Montag actually recognizes this and is worried that he might slip into another passive way of living. Shortly before he reads poetry aloud to Mildred and her two friends, Montag expresses this worry to Faber: 

I'm not thinking. I'm just doing like I'm told, like always. 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? 

Faber responds that Montag is winning the battle against himself simply by questioning what he is doing. 

Probably the most obvious man vs. man conflict is between Montag and Beatty. As Montag begins to open his eyes to the world of literature and real human interaction, he always has the fear that Beatty and/or the Mechanical Hound will come and put a stop to it. Beatty represents the authoritative fireman, "the man," the one who enforces the suppression of books and knowledge. In the end, Montag is forced to confront Beatty in person and this is symbolic because in doing so, Montag faces this authority of suppression. 

Montag fights society in a number of ways. Simply by stealing books, he embarks upon a conflict with the oppressive society he lives in. The scene in Part 2 when he reads poetry to his wife, Mrs. Phelps, and Mrs. Bowles is a spontaneous expression of his conflict with society. Since Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles are as brainwashed into submission as Mildred is, they can not deal with this overt expression that challenges society. 

This novel is mostly about the conflicts of man vs. man and man vs. society. There is not much of a sense of conflict of man vs. nature since most of Montag's opposition lies with the cultural and societal institutions. And there is no real conflict with God in this story. God is invoked but in a reference that posits God as an ally. When the woman chooses to be burnt with her books, she quotes a reference to Hugh Latimer, one who was burned at the stake for heresy. The quote is "Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." The quote implies that, with God's help or as part of God's plan, this act of defying the oppressive society will never be forgotten (the candle will never go out). In Fahrenheit 451, God is invoked but only in exclamatory statements and in this quote which posits God as an ally. 

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