Discussion Topic

Books burned in Fahrenheit 451

Summary:

In Fahrenheit 451, books are burned by the government to suppress dissenting ideas and maintain societal control. The act of burning books symbolizes the destruction of knowledge, free thought, and individualism. The protagonist, Montag, initially participates in this censorship but eventually seeks to preserve literary works and the wisdom they contain.

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In Fahrenheit 451, what does Montag burn first in his house?

In part 3, Montag is astonished to arrive at his home during a routine fire call, and Captain Beatty informs him that Mildred called in an alarm on him. Captain Beatty then instructs Montag to burn down his home and the illegal novels he possesses. The first possessions Montag completely destroys using the flamethrower are his twin beds. Montag then burns the bedroom walls and cosmetics chest before he lights the entire dining room set on fire. Captain Beatty then reminds Montag to destroy his illegal books, and Montag proceeds to burn his collection of novels before aiming at the walls to set his entire house ablaze. After Montag has successfully burned his entire home, Captain Beatty attempts to place him under arrest. Before the captain can arrest Montag, he aims the flamethrower directly at Beatty and pulls the trigger. After killing Captain Beatty, Montag attempts to run away, and the Mechanical Hound impales him with its procaine needle. Fortunately, Montag is able to shoot the hound and barely escapes before the authorities capture him.

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In Fahrenheit 451, what does Montag burn first in his house?

After Beatty confronts Montag and explains that he has been under surveillance for a long time, Montag is forced to burn his own house because of the many books inside. However, since he is allowed to run the flamethrower himself, he chooses to start his burning with some other things:

...the twin beds went up in a great simmering whisper, with more heat and passion and light than he would have supposed them to contain. He burnt the bedroom walls and the cosmetics chest because he wanted to change everything... that showed that he had lived here in this empty house with a strange woman who would forget him tomorrow...
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

His fear and misery in being forced into destroying his house and books turns into anger and fury at his life, wasted with destruction instead of construction, and with his wife, who barely cares if he is home or not. He destroys everything that reminds him of her, especially the television walls that he spent so much money on; she was the only person who appreciated them, and not his hard work to get them. His metaphorical destruction of his past life is a gateway into his future, even though he doesn't yet know if he will survive that long.

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Which three books are burned at the old woman's house and Montag's house in Fahrenheit 451?

The answer to the first portion comes when Montag is attempting to talk to Mildred later that night. Of course, she's only interested in her "programmes", and when Montag pukes on the floor she gets very upset. He tries to tell her about the old woman, choosing to die with her books, but she doesn't get it. He tells her: "We burned copies of Dante and Swift and Marcus Aurelius." So most likely, they burned Dante's The Divine Comedy, known commonly as Dante's Inferno. They burned books by Jonathan Swift, most likely Gulliver's Travels. They also destroyed the writings of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, written while he was Emperor of Rome.

As far as those books burned at Montag's house, these are more difficult to pin down. The only one that's directly named is the Bible. Montag shows his wife, saying "This is the Old and New Testaments". Later on, Montag becomes the books of Ecclesiastes and Revelation. So the Bible is definitely one. A second book is most likely an anthology of poems, because Montag reads "Dover Beach" to Mildred's friends. but no title is given, and that's the only poem read from it. The others are a mystery. At least one may be some kind of pulp fiction, because it has an ad for "Denham's dentrifice" in it. Otherwise, we'll never know what's burned in his house.

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