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

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (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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