Someone once said "It is the human lot to try and fail." How can I interpret this quote using a reference from Fahrenheit 451 and a literary element found in Fahrenheit 451?

Expert Answers

Want to remove ads?

Get ad-free questions with an eNotes 48-hour free trial.

Try It Free No Thanks
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrative of Fahrenheit 451 demonstrates that books are testimony to man's attempt to make his "reach exceed his grasp" as the poet Robert Browning wrote, while wars are testimony to his failure to do so by assigning technology the role that the heart and mind must play.

Literature is the recording of the human experience, man's attempts to find meaning in life and to establish communication with others through the connections of thought. To detach oneself from the recordings of the human heart is to alienate oneself, and to destine oneself to the repetition of failures, and to be in constant war between the emptiness of a technological world and the enrichment of the world of thought.

When Montag catches the books in midair from the conflagration of the woman's house of books, he does so on an impulse; however, he almost intuitively senses that there is a profound force of the human heart recorded on the pages of these burning tomes, and he is curious to learn what lies within them. So, he carries some out and hides them in his house. Shortly thereafter, Montag, tries but fails as he reads Dover Beach to his wife and her friends; however, they react irrationally.

Mildred kicked at a book. "Books aren't people. You read and I look all around, but there isn't anybody! 'family' is people. They tell me things; I laugh, they laugh! And the colors!"

Further in the narrative, after Montag kills Beatty and escapes the police search for him, he learns from Granger that books and other forms of art are tools of communication with future generations:

Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die.... (This is figurative language—"something your hand touched" means something you created, something that was meaningful to people.)

So, Montag joins the community of living books (an implied metaphor for the people who memorize books), keeping them alive in the hope that people will realize the importance of these words. Granger touches Montag's arm as he says, "Welcome back from the dead." Alienation is overcome in this community in which each person is a book as the war between the emptiness of a technological world and the enrichment of the world of thought is resolved.