What is a significant passage between pages 89-110 of the book Fahrenheit 451 [hardback cover], with an explanation of its importance? (Can you also write down the page number from where you...

What is a significant passage between pages 89-110 of the book Fahrenheit 451 [hardback cover], with an explanation of its importance? 
(Can you also write down the page number from where you citied the passage so that I can look at the passage in the book?)


Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One significant passage in Part Two of Farenheit 451 is near the end of this section. (This is on p. 103 of a softcover, but it is the full size of a hardcover, so the pages should be very similar.) 

[Location of passage: After Montag returns to the firehouse, Beatty greets him and holds his hand out, knowing that Montag has a book. Montag hands over the book, and without looking at it, Beatty tosses it into the flames; further, he tells Montag of a dream that he has had. The passage selected includes parts of this dream, which is about two pages after Beatty takes Montag's book. The paragraph in which the passage is included begins with "Beatty chuckled. 'And you said, quoting, "Truth will come to light, murder will not be hid long!"'"]

Here is the passage:

"And 'The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.' And you yelled, 'This age thinks better of a gilded fool, than of a threadbare saint in wisdom's school!' And I whispered gently, 'The dignity of truth is lost with much protesting.' And you screamed, 'Carcasses bleed at the sight of the murderer!' And I said, patting your hand, 'What, do I give you trench mouth?' And you shrieked, 'Knowledge is power!' and 'A dwarf on a giant's shoulders of the furthest of the two!' and I summed my side up with rare serenity in, 'The folly of mistaking a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself as an oracle, is inborn in us, Mr. Valery [French philosopher] once said.'"

This passage is significant because the clever Beatty is able to obfuscate the truth just as the Devil has cited Scripture in the Bible to Jesus for his purposes. (Matthew 4:1-11). In fact, Beatty is even so bold as to quote the line about the Devil. Moreover, he destroys the dignity of truth with his specious arguments, arguments about which Faber whispers to Montag, warning him.

In addition, this passage is very significant and very relevant in light of occurrences in present-day American society and that of the past. Indeed, "The dignity of truth is lost with much protesting." For example, claiming that one group's lives matter, while ignoring the atrocities committed by the same group in other areas, certainly destroys the dignity of truth. In the past, such as the 1960's, the group innocuously named Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) supposedly condemned communist totalitarianism and authoritarianism, yet this organization blamed the Cold War upon the United States. Likewise, this organization strongly protested the Vietnam War against the Communists. Furthermore, out of this SDS organization there developed a subversive group called the Weathermen Underground, who worked toward the creation of a clandestine revolutionary party for the overthrow of the U.S. Government.

Another example of the loss of the truth through protest occurred when Japanese citizens in America were forced into internment camps during World War II because the U.S. was at war with Japan. This unjustified act was certainly a loss of the truth through protest because there was no proof of subversiveness among these people. Of course, the Communism scare of the 1950's with Joseph McCarthy's "witch hunt" is yet another example. This Red Scare was "the folly of mistaking a metaphor for the truth."

Looking no further than politicians and journalists of today, the reader of this passage can understand how truth is manipulated with "metaphor" and a "torrent of verbiage" disguised as a "spring of capital truths." The marked difference in the reportage of the news among various networks provides testimony to this fact, and the sophistry of arguments of top politicians is, indeed, rampant today, making this passage both significant and relevant.


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Fahrenheit 451

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