On what page is this passage in Fahrenheit 451?"Do you ever read any of the books you burn?"He laughed. "That's against the law!""Oh. Of course."

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This dialogue is in the exposition of Fahrenheit 451 on page 8 for some publications, and on page 5 of the Simon & Schuster paperback.

In Part One "The Hearth and the Salamander," Montag walks home from his job as a fireman and senses that the "air seemed charged with a special calm" as though someone were waiting; then, he encounters a girl who walks as though the wind and blowing leaves carry her along. Montag is taken by the vision of this strange girl.

After asking his name and introducing herself, she engages him in conversation, telling him how much she enjoys the outdoors as she sometimes walks all night and then watches the sun rise. Clarisse McClellan asks Montag how long he has been a fireman and if he ever reads any of those books that he says he enjoys burning. When she says, "Oh. Of course," Montag adds, 

It's fine work. Monday burn Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn 'em to ashes, then burn the ashes. That's our official slogan."

Clarisse, however, is not impressed. Instead, she asks Montag why he laughs when she has not said anything funny, hinting that his laughter may be disguising some other feelings of Montag.

This quote about reading books being against the law is powerful because literature is the record of human experience and people's connection to the ideas and emotions of the past, experiences to which others can relate as well as learn. Without books, there is no past, no history.  People are isolated in their thoughts in the society of Fahrenheit 451 with nothing by which to measure life.

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Fahrenheit 451

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