In Fahrenheit 451, what is it Granger says we miss when a loved one dies?

Granger says we miss the unique things our loved ones did that impacted the world around them. In other words, it is the actions and creations of our loved ones that we miss the most when they pass away.

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Granger talks to Montag about his grandfather, saying,

When I was a boy my grandfather died, and he was a sculptor. He was also a very kind man who had a lot of love to give the world, and he helped clean up the slum in our town; and he...

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Granger talks to Montag about his grandfather, saying,

When I was a boy my grandfather died, and he was a sculptor. He was also a very kind man who had a lot of love to give the world, and he helped clean up the slum in our town; and he made toys for us and he did a million things in his lifetime; he was always busy with his hands

Granger asserts that when a loved one dies, what we miss about them is the ways in which they impacted the world around them. He then says everyone needs to produce something that will leave an imprint on the earth. People need not necessarily create something that has a major impact—they might do something smaller like having children, painting a picture, making a pair of shoes, or planting a garden—but every concrete contribution is important. By producing, people leave behind a little bit of their souls when they die.

Montag thinks sadly of Millie, who in contrast to Granger's grandfather, made no imprint on the world. Montag comments that her hands never did anything at all. Millie is a symbol of the way their dystopic society robbed people of their essential humanity. All Millie did was watch her view screens day in and day out. Her life, like that of millions of other people's, was hollow. This society failed its citizens because nobody was ever challenged to create, achieve, or impact the world around them. It was thought that people would be happier if they didn't read, think, or produce, but the consequence of this was that members of this society made no contributions and left no legacy. Unlike Granger's grandfather, their existence will not be missed, and that is perhaps the biggest tragedy at all.

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While Montag travels downstream alongside the group of traveling intellectuals, he laments that he does not feel sorry for Mildred, who is in immediate danger because she lives in a city on the verge of extinction. When Montag comments that something must be wrong with him, Granger begins to talk about his deceased grandfather. Granger tells Montag his grandfather was a sculptor, who was charismatic, creative, and "always busy with his hands." Granger admits that he has never gotten over his death and often contemplates how the world was robbed of "ten million fine actions" the moment his grandfather passed away.

Granger elaborates on his feelings regarding his grandfather's death by telling Montag,

"And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn't crying for him at all, but for the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again..." (Bradbury, 73).

According to Granger, we miss the special actions of our loved ones and the unique way they impacted the world. He says he misses the way his grandfather carved a piece of wood, raised doves, told jokes, or played the violin.

Granger goes on to explain the importance of leaving an impact on the world in some way, shape, or form before passing away. Creative individuals like Granger's grandfather touched the world in a special way, leaving it better than before. Montag takes Granger's advice to heart and hopes to leave a positive legacy by helping rebuild a literate society.

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Granger imparts quite a bit of wisdom and good advice to Montag, and in his conversation with him relates his fondness for his grandfather.  Granger's grandfather had a profound impact on his life, and taught him valuable lessons about work, learning and individuality--his death was hard for Granger.  His grandfather taught him so many valuable things, and his lessons are still rattling around hin his head to this day.  He says that after his grandfather died, he cried "for all the things he did."  He realized that his grandfather would never DO anything again--never carve, teach, touch, or live another day to do another thing.  Granger's grandfather "did things to the world" and that is what he missed the most.  One of the most important lessons his grandfather taught him was this:

"it doesn't matter what you do, so long as  you change something from the way it was before you touched it inot something that's like you after you take your hands away."

Granger missed all of the ways that his grandfather changed the world, and how he was an individual that made an impact.  We miss people for how they changed the world around us.  Montag, when given this advice, had been thinking about Mildred, and that begs the question, what impact did Millie have on the life around her?  And by contrast, what impact did Clarisse have?  When you think of the value of a human life in terms of the impact one makes on the world around you, it puts things into perspective a bit, and Granger's grandfather had a huge impact for good on those around him.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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