What is the purpose of the slow motion on page 140-141 in Fahrenheit 451?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The slow motion description of the bombs is used to demonstrate the full effect of Montag’s emotions.

Montag goes through a lot of change throughout the course of the novel.  He goes from being a fireman who loves to burn books to a being a secret caretaker of them.  When he sees the bombs exploding over his city, he realizes that his old life is gone for good.

Once the bomb-release was yanked it was over. Now, a full three seconds, all of the time in history, before the bombs struck, the enemy ships themselves were gone half around the visible world, like bullets in which a savage islander might not believe because they were invisible…. (Part 3)

The people have always lived with a false sense of security.  They believed themselves to be safe, and did not think that the bombers would ever come to them.  The ongoing war was little more than a footnote to them.  It was never real.  The slow-motion here captures that sense of reality slowly sinking in, and the knowledge that everyone died.