In Fahrenheit 451, what roles do people play in society?

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belarafon's profile pic

belarafon | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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People in Fahrenheit 451 play different roles depending on their status in the society. For example, Montag is a fireman, which is a high-status job, and so he performs the role of enforcing the government's will on the citizenry. His wife, Mildred, is a typical housewife, and so plays the role of "keeping the home fires warm," although she is so obsessed with television that she barely does that. Chief Beatty controls the firehouse, and has more power because of his knowledge of human mentalities and literature; his role is to keep his men in line, and to keep them from developing the individual curiosity that would destroy their institution. Clarisse is a student, and should fulfil the role of being indoctrinated into society; instead, because of her family, she is curious and self-aware, knowing that society is faulty on a fundamental level. Each character plays their role as the government has written it, and it is only when Montag and others break free from their assigned roles and begin to think individually that the society's flaws are fully exposed.

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, various characters' roles depend on their occupation and status in society. Captain Beatty plays the role of enforcer as he decides whose home will be burned and who will be arrested for illegally possessing books. Montag and the other firemen occupy a higher status in their society and obey Captain Beatty's orders. Intellectuals like Faber fear the firemen and remain reclusive in order to avoid danger. Mildred and her friends occupy the roles of the mindless, unscrupulous population living in Bradbury's dystopian society. They passively accept the government's propaganda and enjoy endless entertainment via the parlour wall televisions. Clarisse's role in society is to accept the indoctrination to the callous culture as all children are required to do. However, she is a rebellious teenager, who enjoys nature and conversations. She is also the catalyst that forces Montag to reevaluate his life throughout the story. Faber and Granger play the roles of rebellious intellectuals, who actively defy and challenge the authoritarian government. They play the role of society's enemies throughout the novel. 

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