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The war hangs over Montag's head throughout the novel; he is not sure who is at war with who, and is confused and irritated that no one else seems concerned. As the novel progresses, snatches of reporting from radios show how the war is moving forward, and as Montag flees the city, the war is officially declared. It is interesting that the war has a long buildup, but the technology of the time allows the war to be extremely fast:
And the war began and ended in that instant.
Later, the men around Montag could not say if they had really seen anything. Perhaps the merest flourish of light and motion in the sky.
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)
Montag and the other men at the train tracks are astonished by the power of the jets and bombs; the city is utterly destroyed. For the book hobos, the war is an inevitable part of the societal degeneration that resulted from censorship and collectivism; for Montag, the war is the end of his previous life and the beginning of a new life. He knows now that his unique knowledge, his value as an individual, is important to rebuilding society; all the mindless drones in the city succumbed to the war because they couldn't think for themselves, but Montag has escaped precisely because he rejected those ideals.
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