Influences on Montag in Fahrenheit 451
In the 1953 story Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the main character, a fireman named Guy Montag, makes a complete metamorphosis from hating books with a passion to loving them and what they hold between their covers. He changes from a zombie like character, incognizant of the activities in his society, to a person conscious of everything, so enlightened by the new world he is exposed to. Many aspects in his society helped this metamorphosis come about, the biggest influence on Montags life in this novel were the people in his life.
The first personal influence on is Clarisse; a young, teenage girl, who moves next door, with her uncle, to Montag. Clarisse is classified as an odd person, who loves to talk to Montag, and ask him questions about himself, and she loves to talk about her uncle, who remembers the past and has a sharp intellect. She is also very perceptive: "I like to watch people. Sometimes I ride the subway all day and look at them and listen to them, I just want to figure out who they are and what they want and where they're going. Sometimes I even go to the Fun Parks and ride in the jet cats when they race on the edge of town at midnight and the police dont care as long as theyre insured. As long as everyone has ten thousand insurance everyones happy. Sometimes I sneak around and listen in subways. Or I listen at soda fountains. (Bradbury 30-31)
Clarisse teaches Montag to look around him, look at the people for who they really are. He had never done that before. She shows him, with a simple dandelion, that Montag isn't really in love with Mildred anymore. Clarisse teaches Montag to look around and to pay attention to what is really important in life, just not what his society tells him.
The second personal influence is Mildred. Mildred, his wife of a few years is a negative influence on him. She doesnt know who she really is and lives in an fantasy world with her television family. One night she overdoses on sleeping tablets and Montag is so confused because the next morning she tries to ignore it ever happened. Dont you remember? What? Did we have a wild party or something? Feel like Ive a hangover. (19) After this incident he looks at Mildred in a different light. Mildred opens his eyes to the real world and shows him that most people are uncaring and self-centered.
The third personal influence is Captain Beatty. Captain Beatty is the chief of firemen and is very knowledgeable. He finds out that Montag has books and that is when the whole climax begins. Beatty is an unintentional influence on Montag. He has no idea that he is changing Montag. He pushes and pushes Montag to his limits till he rebels. He tells Montag that books are no good and that nothing is good about them. "At least once in his career, every fireman gets an itch. What do the books say, he wonders. Oh, to scratch that itch, eh? Well, Montag, take my word for it, I've had to read a few in my time, to know what I was about, and the books say nothing...You come away lost." (62) Beatty tries to discourage Montag from books, but without even noticing it just makes him go in the opposite direction.
The last personal influence is Professor Faber. Faber had been forced to retire because there were no students at the universities and colleges. Youre a hopeless romantic, said Faber. It would be so funny if it were not serious. Its not books you need, its some of the things that once were in books....There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us. (82-83)
There are many people who influence us through our life. Personal influence can be either external or internal. External personal influence involves social interaction between two or more people, such as a neighbor, a mother, a father, and a child. (Answers.com) Some are good, some are bad. Luckily Montag changes for the better because of the people around him. After he escapes the authorities, he becomes a new, better person aware of the real things in life.
Answers.com. Answers.com. 28 April 2010. 28 April 2010 .
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballatine Books, 1953. 190.