What is the impact of the point of view of the text in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451?  

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, one element of style that he uses so effectively is point of view. Point of view is defined as...

...a specified position or method of consideration and appraisal. It may also be an attitude, judgment, or opinion.

Further explanation clarifies that as it pertains to literature, it is the...

...position in time and space from which a writer approaches, views, and describes his or her material.

Mental point of view is connected to the tone of the story, i.e., how the author feels about his/her subject. Point of view allows the author to choose how to share his "feeling and attitude toward his...subject." Point of view is the perspective from which the author chooses to tell his tale:  either first, second, or third person. Personal point of view means that the author is writing in the first person, sharing what the character thinks, and the reader can hear those thoughts. This is an effective tool in giving insight to the traits of that character that won't necessarily be available to the reader using a different point of view. In drama, this is called an aside—when the character speaks his thoughts out loud for the benefit of the audience.

If the author takes the point of view of an observing character, the author is writing in the second person.

This is the point of view used in William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," in which the author chooses to tell the story from the perspective of a member of the community—someone who is closely connected to the action of this macabre tale.

When the author distances himself emotionally from the story and tells it in an impersonal way, the point of view is omniscient (knowing all and seeing all, but not involved in the action) and this is called third person

Some authors even utilize different points of view in one story so the reader can understand what is happening from the perspective of several characters. It is apparent, then, that the author who uses point of view adeptly can write a better piece by effectively choosing the best vantage point (in terms of the character "speaking") with which to engage the reader. In adopting a particular point of view, the writer shares extremely important information regarding the plot development in general, and also about character interactions, motivations, etc.

In Bradbury's novel, he uses third person, focusing on the thoughts and actions of Guy Montag. In this way we learn about the internal conflict raging within him throughout the book—told objectively. The kind of man Montag is at the beginning is clear from the first line of the story:

It was a pleasure to burn.

It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.

By the end of the story, this point of view effectively conveys the change in him by sharing his thoughts:

How can I go at this new assignment, how can I go on burning things? I can't go in this place.

Montag's dialogue with Mildred, Clarisse, Beatty and Faber influences his perceptions, and because of these interactions, he goes through an enormous transformation, which shares Bradbury's major theme or "basic point of view..."

...which passionately embraces the importance of books for human beings.

For within the pages of a book, one can question, learn and better understand self and the world.