In Fahrenheit 451, why was the city bombed?

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write9,648 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Bradbury does not give a specific reason why Montag's dystopian society is bombed, but one can assume that it is retaliation from another nation at war with them. Throughout the novel, there are numerous comments about how Montag's society is continually at war. Several scenes in the novel depict fighter jets flying overhead, and Montag listens to a Seashell radio report that ten million troops have been mobilized. Mrs. Phelps also mentions that her husband has been deployed for what the government refers to as a "quick war." Overall, Montag's society is depicted as a brutal nation, which is continually at war with other countries. When Montag joins the group of traveling intellectuals, they repeatedly comment on how their society will eventually be destroyed. At the end of the novel, an atomic bomb is dropped on the city and the group of traveling intellectuals walk towards the destroyed society in hopes of one day rebuilding a literate nation. The atomic bomb also serves as a deus ex machina, which offers the story a positive conclusion. 

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

price7781 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write668 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

In Fahrenheit 451, there is some sort of war going on between two factions (Montag’s society and another), and the reader knows very little about why they are fighting.  There are only a few mentions of the war in the novel.  Some examples of where we see the impact of the war is a radio report that war can be declared any day; jets going over the city every day and making the firehouse “tremble”; and finally, at the end of the novel when Montag’s city is bombed and Montag sees the jets from the hobo camp he has joined.

Bradbury keeps the reason for the war secret perhaps in an attempt to let us see just how far this society has fallen.  People in this society seem very unconcerned about the war; it appears to be just another thing they put up with and don’t even notice.  In addition, the novel was published in 1953 during the Cold War.  Nuclear war was a real threat to people in the United States, and perhaps Bradbury is proposing that we don’t be complacent in its seriousness. 

I’ve always imagined that the war is being fought between Montag’s dystopian society and those who want to change it back to a society of individuality and freedom.  However, there’s no evidence to this in the novel, but it would have been a great idea for a second book about Montag.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial