Could someone please help me describe the coherence and unity of Fahrenheit 451?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Coherence: One of the themes is that technology has become the ultimate pacifier. The Mechanical Hound is the reinforcer of this anti-literary, anti-intellectual world. Fire is the symbol and actual element that is used to destroy any/all books which threaten this new, technologically advanced, intellectually stagnant way of life. Using fire adds to the coherence with these symbols and the overall narrative of the story. The narrative is about the dangers of technology but also the application of it by people in power. Using fire is important because fire and the wheel are often thought of as the beginning of technology. Fittingly, when Montag starts to see things differently and reads more, he notes that fire was once used for warmth and cooking. The Myth of the Phoenix is also suggested, and here fire is portrayed as capable of destruction but also creation. So, the unity of the story is about technology, but a shift does take place. When Montag begins to see that technology (in this case fire) can be creative as well as destructive/pacifying. Literature itself is also a form of technology. Scholars often call Gutenberg’s printing press the greatest discovery in history because it allowed knowledge to spread exponentially more quickly and efficiently. Technology is the application of knowledge. The unity and coherence of the novel is that it presents this way of thinking as Montag learns it himself. In other words, we learn this as Montag does. The lesson is that technology is not inherently bad or good; it is capable of both. How technology manifests depends on how we apply it.

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