If They Give You Ruled Paper Write The Other Way

What does the quote "If they give you ruled paper write the other way" mean and how does it relate to Fahrenheit 451?

Asked on by sshekel

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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This quote is one Bradbury attached to the story and it is found after the table of contents and before the story begins.  It means to think for yourself; do not follow the rules or laws just because you are told to do so.  In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury warns people not to become, like the character of Faber, complacent.  He tells the reader to read, learn, and think.  "Ruled paper" means paper with lines on it.   A person will usually write on those lines, no matter how large or small the person's handwriting might be - thus conforming to the standards imposed by those lines.  The quote says to write how YOU want to write and where you want to write.  It's an overly simplistic presentation of Bradbury's idea presented in the book perhaps, but it is meant to get across the point of thinking for oneself unlike most of the people of the society in which the story takes place.  Those people just followed the trends and then became a doomed society that will be bombed into oblivion by the end of the book.

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parama9000's profile pic

parama9000 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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It is attacking the fact that there is completely no individuality in terms of schools of thought and anyone and everyone is suppose to conform. The quote is interpreted in the sense that you should not follow rules,  or norms in a larger sense bluntly and blindly, or maybe even to the extent of laws. Rules, in the finest sense are meant to be broken. Mildred, for example, does not find any wrong in keeping a book in the house, and her thoughts are different from Clarisse, Montag or Faber. Due to Clarisse's influence, Montag is convinced regarding the err of his ways and he breaks the rules, laws, norms, trends that he used to follow.

Yojana_Thapa's profile pic

Yojana_Thapa | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

"If they give you ruled paper write the other way" What this quote means is that don't do what you're told to do so. Be yourself, be an individual instead of being like the others. Write how you want to not how your suppose to. How this relates to Fahrenheit 451 is that the society portrayed in this novel has laws that everyone is suppose to follow. For example, no one is suppose to have a book in their house, this is known as breaking the law! Mildred, Montag's wife thinks that the book is meaningless. Mildred is part of the society and thinks the way the others do. She isn't like Clarisse, Montag, or Faber. Since this society has so many laws, someone is bound to break it. Because of Clarisse, Montag changes and therefore Montag finally sees the reality and knows what he did wrong. And, he breaks the rules instead of following the laws that he, himself have been following all along. 

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