In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, how is the identity of Guy Montag demonstrated through the use of voice?

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Literary voice refers to the way an author presents a plot, setting, character, etc. Voice involves style, tone, and the use of figures of speech to tap into the essence of who or what is being described. For example, readers can discover Montag's identity through his own thoughts, what he says to himself and others, and through what other characters say about him. At the beginning of the story, the first lines describe Montag's identity as a fireman who loves to see things burn.

"It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed" (3).

Not only does Montag take pleasure burning things, but he likes being a fireman for the government. However, when his happiness is challenged by a young girl, he starts to look more introspectively and discovers another part of himself that may have been hiding because of the oppressive society in which he lives. As Montag searches to fill a void in his life, he discovers more about himself and what he also wants to change. When seeking help from Professor Faber, Montag says the following:

"Nobody listens any more. I can't talk to the walls because they're yelling at me. I can't talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it'll make sense" (82).

At this point, Montag is confused because his identity seems to be different from that of society. In fact, it seems as though he is suffering from an identity crisis. Fortunately, Faber uses his voice to define Montag as follows:

"You're a hopeless romantic . . . It would be funny if it were not serious. It's not books you need, it's some of the things that once were in books" (82).

Montag eventually discovers what his purpose in life is, which also helps him to discover who he is. In the end, Montag is a man who values the written and spoken word. He believes in having authentic relationships that are not based on distraction, discovering all the good that there is in life, and living a life free from ignorance and government manipulation.  

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Fahrenheit 451

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