Discuss the use of imagery in the beginning of Fahrenheit 451.

In the early part of Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury uses all the senses in rich descriptions. Visual imagery predominates, but sound is also common. He often uses multiple senses in the same paragraph. Examples include the paragraph beginning with “He walked out of the fire station,” which uses visual, auditory, and tactile imagery. Overall, there is a strong emphasis on light and dark, with a contrast between the moonlight street and the dark bedroom.

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Ray Bradbury uses imagery throughout Fahrenheit 451. In the early part of the novel, there are many instances where several senses are combined in a sentence or paragraph. Page numbers vary among different editions. While he evokes all five senses, visual imagery is dominant, and sound is also common. Light and dark contrasts frequently appear. Bradbury sometimes combines the senses, using the literary device of synesthesia.

The paragraph beginning with “He walked out of the fire station” uses visual, auditory, and tactile imagery. The reader sees Montag walking along the very dark or “midnight street,” and the silence is emphasized in “the silent air-propelled train slid soundlessly.” The next part of that sentence uses tactile imagery, referring to “lubrication” and the “warm air” he feels upon moving up through the station.

The next few paragraphs continue to evoke the sense of touch in reference to the air, along with the visual qualities of the starry night and the sounds he makes or hears—or imagines he might hear. “Whistling” as he is wafted up, Montag

slowed as if a wind had sprung up from nowhere, as if someone had called his name.

In the next few paragraphs, as he grows increasingly apprehensive that someone might be nearby, the imagery has multiple sensory dimensions. In the starlit night, he feels like a waiting person might have

simply turned into a shadow. Perhaps his nose detected a faint perfume, perhaps the skin on the backs of his hands, on his face, felt the temperature rise.

After he turns the corner, he encounters the girl who turns out to be Clarisse. The paragraph beginning with “The autumn leaves” is a long description of Montag’s first impression of her. Whiteness and paleness are emphasized, in her face and dress, and contrasted to her dark eyes.

Her face was slender and milk-white, and in it. … was a look, almost, of pale surprise; the dark eyes were so fixed on the world.

Whiteness is combined with sound and assigned to motion.

Her dress was white and it whispered. He almost thought he heard the motion of her hands as she walked, and the infinitely small sound now, the white stir of her face turning.

Whiteness and light become more prominent, as Clarisse continues to impress Montag and prompts a memory of candlelight during a power failure. The paragraph beginning “He saw himself in her eyes” has references to “the soft and constant light” from her “fragile milk crystal” face, which he realizes is

the strangely comfortable and rare and gently flattering light of the candle.

After their conversation concludes, as the neighbors reach their respective homes, Montag enters his house and goes into the tomblike bedroom. In “the cold marbled room,” it seems as if the moon has set.

Complete darkness, not a hint of the silver world outside.

Several paragraphs below, the candle image returns but, this time, as if extinguished when he stops smiling:

A fantastic candle burning too long and now collapsing and now blown out. Darkness.

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