Fahrenheit 451 Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 book cover
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Using pages 1-19 of Fahrenheit 451, give a summary of the world in which Montag lives. 

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In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the main character, Guy Montag, is experiencing a realization about his life that went heretofore unnoticed. In the first few pages, the reader is immersed in a strange world where people don't talk to one another or care about their surroundings.

The world in which Montag lives is futuristic in the sense that it represents a world where reading books is illegal and anyone who is found to own books runs the risk of having their house burned down. Firemen start fires in Montag's world rather than put them out.

Clarisse McClellan, (the girl who points out discrepancies in reality for Montag), questions him about a time when things were different: "Is it true that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?" (6). However, Montag admonishes Clarisse for this question because he doesn't know of another time, "No. Houses have always been fireproof, take my word for it," (6).

Clarisse informs Montag about things he never knew of or had since forgotten about: things like dew on the morning grass, the "man in the moon," and the taste of rain. She points out that people are always moving so quickly that they no longer notice the world around them. "I sometimes think drivers don't know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly," (6). She also intrigues him by talking about her family and the way they talk to one another. Judging from Montag's reaction to this, Clarisse realizes this is an uncommon circumstance; "It's like being a pedestrian, only rarer...Oh, we're most peculiar," (7).

Instead of talking to one another, the people in Montag's world get lost in their own heads while listening to Seashells (thimble radios they wear in their ears), and attempt suicide often. After a failed attempt by Mildred, the men who are sent from the emergency hospital are through pumping Mildred's stomach and replacing her blood when they confide in Montag that it's a regular occurrence, "We get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many, starting a few years ago, we had these special machines built," (13).

This may be due to the fact that there is no camaraderie, no loyalty, and no connections to others in Montag's world. However, the first 19 pages pique the reader's interest and offer hope of change for the better.

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