In "Fahrenheit 451," what is Granger trying to tell Montag at the end of the novel?
Towards the end of the novel, Montag escapes from the city and joins a group of traveling intellectuals. Granger is the leader of the group, who befriends and introduces Montag to the other members. Granger goes on to explain to Montag that the group of traveling intellectuals memorize important pieces of literature in order to preserve past knowledge. Granger hopes that one day they will be able to share their preserved knowledge with the rest of humanity following the impending atomic war. As the traveling intellectuals leave the campsite, Montag tells Granger that he is not sad that his wife will die once the bombs are dropped. Granger then begins to tell Montag about his grandfather, who was a sculptor. Granger explains to Montag how his grandfather shaped and changed the world around him. Granger says to Montag:
"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there. It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away" (Bradbury, 73).
Essentially, Granger is telling Montag that he needs to leave his mark on humanity before he dies by giving back and positively impacting society. Granger is encouraging Montag to leave a legacy, which Montag will have a chance to do by helping rebuild a literate society.
In Granger's last speech to Montag in this dystopian classic, after witnessing the bombing of the city Montag has just successfully fled from, Granger tells Montag to basically remember that their job is to remember all the mistakes that have been made in the past so that hopefully humanity can enjoy a better future:
And when they ask us what we're doing, you can say, We're remembeing. That's where we'll win out in the long run. And someday we'll remember so much that we'll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up.
Granger's emphasis is on using all of the knowledge that they have learnt from book to make sure that the future is better. He says that humans, even when they had access to books, still made all of the same mistakes. Hopefully this time things will be different and the book people can be key to securing a brighter future for the human race that does not involve forgetting the amassed wisdom of the ages.