What is the rising action in Fahrenheit 451?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The rising action in the book starts when Montag meets Clarisse for the first time, and it continues at a steady pace until the moment when Montag reads poetry to the visiting women. Until the final climax, the action between the poetry scene and Montag's confrontation with Beatty is held at a roughly level plane; Montag knows that he is going to be discovered but he can't do anything to avoid it. Essentially, Montag's personal journey of self-discovery provides most of the rising action, and as he comes to terms with his own individualism, the action levels and starts to fall.

Of course I'm happy. What does she think? I'm not? he asked the quiet rooms. He stood looking up at the ventilator grille in the hall and suddenly remembered that something lay hidden behind the grille, something that seemed to peer down at him now. He moved his eyes quickly away.
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

This moment, which foreshadows Montag's revelation that he has been stealing books for years, is the start of the rising action. His unease in the society, which has informed and shaped his opinions all his life, allows the reader to feel equally uncomfortable, and each revelation adds to this discomfort. The rising action of Montag's mind is echoed by the events in his life: the old woman who will not leave her books, his sadness at Clarisse's death, his sudden understanding of what the firemen actually do. Each moment is part of Montag's personal journey, and so the rising action follows his individual development.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The rising action begins immediately after Montag meets Clarisse and she asks him if he is happy. Clarisse's observation makes Montag question his life and he begins to contemplate how to change the trajectory of his meaningless existence. Montag begins to think that books may have answers inside of them that might help remedy his dilemma after he witnesses a woman commit suicide alongside her library. Montag then calls in sick and attempts to read some of the books that he stole from dissidents' homes but cannot comprehend any of the information he reads. Montag then travels to Faber's home and asks him for help with comprehending texts after explaining his dire situation. Montag and Faber form a friendship and Faber gives Montag the green bullet to communicate. Montag then returns home, where he ends up reading the poem "Dover Beach" aloud to Mildred and her friends. Shortly after upsetting the women in his home, Montag goes to work and receives a call. Captain Beatty then takes Montag to his home, gives him a flamethrower, and tells him to burn his home. The climax of the novel takes place when Beatty attempts to arrest Montag and he decides to murder the captain using his flamethrower. 

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Fahrenheit 451

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