In the novel Fahrenheit 451, how big of a role does dying for a cause play?

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Dying for a cause—particularly the cause of books and knowledge, and more generally, to live a life congruent with your values—plays an important role in the novel.

If Clarisse gives Montag his first glimmer of a different approach to life, the woman who dies rather than give up her books...

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Dying for a cause—particularly the cause of books and knowledge, and more generally, to live a life congruent with your values—plays an important role in the novel.

If Clarisse gives Montag his first glimmer of a different approach to life, the woman who dies rather than give up her books when the firemen arrive gets Montag's mind churning even more profoundly. His curiosity about these objects that he has thoughtlessly and joyfully incinerated for so many years is piqued when he realizes that some people would rather die than live without them.

As Montag's view of the world becomes increasingly focalized and crystallized, the idea of himself dying for a cause comes more and more clearly into view. He partners with Faber, a former professor who is willing to take risks if he believes there might be something worthwhile in it—even if only Montag's sincerity in pursuit of undermining a society that bans the real pursuit of knowledge. In the end, Montag is willing to risk his life for the cause of building a book- and knowledge-based world.

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The professor character also dies for a cause, putting his life on the line by helping Montag. Faber knows what kind of risk he is running when he agrees to supply Montag the help he'll need to escape the city. Importantly, Faber's choice is based on his antipathy for the system that Montag is rebelling against. His sacrifice can be seen as being directly in line with a chosen cause.

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One of the problems with Montag's society is that no one cares about anything.  People seem more interested in television than life.  When Montag discovers the books, he realizes that there could be more to life.  He is one of the few people that recognizes this.

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I would say that it plays rather a large role.  None of the main characters dies for a cause, but people who do die for a cause have a lot to do with Montag's changing ideas.  The old lady who died with her books is the main instance of this, though we can sort of put Clarisse in this category as well.

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