In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, what are Montag's impressions of the land across the river? 

In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, what are Montag's impressions of the land across the river?


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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montag's main goal in Fahrenheit 451 is to find out why he feels so empty inside. He believes that books might have the answers that he needs to find out what he is missing from his life. Faber even tells him that books aren't the answer for him. Faber tries to tell Montag that the answers he seeks are in awareness found in the details of life (82). He suggests finding details in old photographs, songs, movies, or friends. When Montag finally escapes the Mechanical Hound and climbs out of the river, it is at this moment that he is aware of the details surrounding him.

"The land rushed at him, a tidal wave. He was crushed by darkness and the look of the country and the million odors on a wind that iced his body. He fell back under the breaking curve of darkness and sound and smell, his ear roaring. He whirled. The stars poured over his sight like flaming meteors. . . when from nowhere the largest wave in the history of remembering slammed him down in salt mud and green darkness, water burning mouth and nose, retching his stomach, screaming! Too much water! Too much land" (143).

In this scene, Montag becomes aware of the details of nature: wind, cold, sound, smell, stars, darkness, etc. It is as if he was living in a dream in the city and has finally awakened from a life-darkening sleep. His senses had been dulled living in the city; but outside, absorbing nature, he becomes truly alive. Of course it is overwhelming and he throws up; but that might be symbolic for purging his system of the old world so he can absorb his new world with a cleansed feeling. His memory is also jolted. He remembers a farmhouse and a windmill. He remembers sleeping in a hayloft, animals, insects, and trees. He also remembers a woman braiding her hair and a breakfast of milk and apples in the morning.

Finally, it is the land, the water, and all of nature that bring back memories of life before the city. He remembers details and the details of life bring to him the importance of a life that he couldn't remember. Montag finally finds what he was looking for: ". . . the time he needed to think all the things that must be thought" (143). Now, he can start filling up his emptiness inside with more valuable details of life.

mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montag is overwhelmed, almost to the point of awed paralysis, with the beauty and striking peace of the countryside, which is so different from the city that he was used to.  Bradbury writes "The land rushed at him, a tidal wave.  He was crushed...his ears roaring."  It almost makes him sick; he is hit with powerful emotions and memories from childhood.  As he walks he is bombarded by smells, and eventually becomes calm, and realizes that "He was not empty".  Here were some of the profound beauties that his society had so efficiently supressed with their busy, mindless lifestyles.  He finally starts to feel what he has been searching for, and realizes, "This is all he wanted now."