How could the conflict in Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 be resolved?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451, the major conflict in the story is man vs. society.

The government is completely focused on keeping the citizens docile and unthinking like automatons—they encourage the use of parlor TVs covering the walls, the Seashell device that pumps music and propaganda into the ears of unsleeping residents, and required speed limits that take drivers past landscapes so incredibly fast that they lose focus of the world outside the car windows.

Have you ever watched the jet cars racing on the boulevards down that way? ...I sometimes think drivers don't know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly...


My uncle drove slowly on a highway once. He drove forty miles an hour and they jailed him for two days.

Another thing the government does is to forbid reading or the possession of books of any kind. This is why Montag and the other firemen have jobs: they don't keep houses from burning down, but start fires so that the houses and the books they contain will be destroyed.

The government does not want people to act as individuals; instead it demands that every person identifies with society as a collective and single entity. It does everything possible to end individual thought and freethinking. However, it seems that the more they forbid books, the more likely it is that people will continue to read and hide them.

One can wonder if anything can be done to stop people from learning, investigating and discussing ideas. However, it would seem that the best way to keep people from trying to do what they want to do is to allow them to carry on as they wish. Human nature dictates that often the more one tries to stop someone from doing something, the more that person will want to pursue that action—more so because it is forbidden.

At the same time if one wants to keep people otherwise occupied, giving them various forms of entertainment like games, television and music will divert their attention and fill their days with meaningless activity. The more people engage in these activities, the less likely they will be to read books or want to change government policy. (Copyrighted in 1950, Bradbury's concerns in Fahrenheit 451 seem strangely relevant today.)

Of course, in Bradbury's book, we realize that the conflict has been forcefully removed because of the bombing in the cities.

This was not to be believed. It was merely a gesture. Montag saw the flirt of a great metal fist over the far city and he knew the scream of the jets that would follow, would say, after the deed, disintegrate, leave no stone on another, perish. Die. [...] Then the city rolled over and fell down dead.

scisser | Student

I would say that it was resolved by the end of the novel. Guy Montag's main conflict was against society. The government hated books and banned them from being utilized/read. Montag is almost killed several times throughout the text, his house is burned down, and his wife betrays him. However, at the end of the novel, the government practically destroys the entire town. There is nothing left. Therefore, Montag has entered a new society, perhaps one where the actions that he does are not punishable.