Fahrenheit 451 Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

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Personification In Fahrenheit 451

What is an example of personification in Fahrenheit 451?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Personification attributes human characteristics to non-human objects or animals.

Throughout the novel, Montag associates malevolent human characteristics with the Mechanical Hound. The Hound, as the word "mechanical" implies, is a machine shaped to look like a hound. It aids the firemen with their book burning. As a mechanical object, it can have no real emotions and is neither good nor evil. However, from the start of the novel, Montag relates to it as if it is alive. For example, he watches it "sleeping the evil out of itself." 

It's not difficult to see how Montag could connect the Hound with human evil. The Hound's job is to pounce on enemies, rodent, human, and otherwise. It injects them with a hypodermic needle full of morphine or procaine. We associate the act of giving injections with human beings. 

Montag states that the Hound "doesn't like [him]," as if it had human feelings. 

Later on, after Montag shoots the attacking Hound, he continues to personify it as an entity that hates him on a personal level:

Montag lay watching the dead-alive thing fiddle the air and die. Even now it seemed to want to get back at him and finish the injection which was now working through the flesh of his leg.

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"The books leapt and danced like roasted birds, their wings ablaze with red and yellow feathers." (Bradbury 110)

This quote is written while Montag is in the process of burning his home and all of its contents. After spraying his bedroom, Beatty tells him to burn the books. Montag then describes what the books look like as they burn. Ray Bradbury uses personification to describe the flaming pages of the books being burnt. Books are inanimate objects that cannot "leap" or "dance" like birds. Personification is a literary technique used to attach living characteristics to non-living objects. Writers often incorporate personification into their writing to add imagery and convey textual meaning to their audiences. One can visualize the movement of the burning pages by associating it with the image of birds flapping their red and yellow wings up and down. This image is closely connected to the Phoenix, which is mentioned later on in the novel.

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Asher Wismer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Personification is the attribution of human or living elements to something inhuman or non-living. One good example comes in the first paragraph, when Montag is burning a house:

With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head...
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

The fire-hose, in this new world, sprays kerosene onto a fire, instead of water, and so the personification is of a dangerous snake spitting poison. The personification is not entirely accurate -- pythons do not have venom, but kill by constriction. However, the comparison works because a venomous snake is dangerous, just as the act of feeding a house fire. By applying a living metaphor to the fire-hose, it becomes less a tool used by Montag and more of a force in itself, a living thing that seems to destroy without reason.

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