Alliteration in Fahrenheit 451

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In 'Fahrenheit 451,' Ray Bradbury writes about a dystopian society where censorship is taken seriously. In this lesson, we will look at examples of alliteration being used to make some important points.

Getting Attention

What do Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Circuit City, and Coca-Cola have in common? Each of these famous brands is aware that alliteration is an attention-getter that sticks with customers. Alliteration is the repetition of beginning consonant sounds in words near or adjacent to each other. Let's look at some examples of alliteration in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

Isolation

At the beginning of Part One, Montag is headed home at the end of his shift as a fireman. It's the middle of a desolate night, and Montag is in his head, not thinking of anything in particular. Bradbury calls attention to the quiet, peacefulness…or is it loneliness?...of the setting with the use of alliteration, '… the subway where the silent, air-propelled train slid soundlessly….' In this sentence, having four words near each other that all begin with the letter 's' makes this an example of alliteration.

The silent subway slid soundlessly.
subway

Ear Worms

Montag knows that he has to relinquish a stolen book to Captain Beatty, so he tries to memorize it, but he is unable to retain it because of the irritating commercials playing on the subway radio. 'The people…tapping their feet to the rhythm of Denham's Dentifrice, Denham's Dandy Dental Detergent, Denham's Dentifrice Dentifrice Dentifrice, one two, one two three, one two, one two three.' Alliteration--in this example, the repetition of words that begin with 'D'-- is used to create an irritating ear worm, a technique that makes people remember the commercial. It drives Montag mad as he is unable to concentrate and memorize the book.

Section Titles

The section titles of Part Two and Part Three also use alliteration. Part Two is called 'The Sieve and the Sand' and Part Three is called 'Burning Bright.' By creating memorable titles through alliteration, Bradbury calls attention to important points in each section.

In Part Two, Montag recalls his cousin betting him that he could not fill a sieve (strainer) with sand. The faster Montag tried to fill it, the faster the sieve filtered the sand through, so it always stayed empty. In the same way, Montag tries to read as fast as he can before he has to turn the book over to Beatty, but the faster he reads, the more elusive the words become. He is unable to retain anything.

'Burning Bright' could have multiple meanings in the context of this section of the book. It may relate to the burning of Montag's home, or it could be that Montag's convictions have lit a fire in him as he references the poem 'The Tyger' by William Blake: 'Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night; …In what distant deeps or skies. Burnt the fire of thine eyes?'

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