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Fahrenheit 451 War Quotes, Symbolism & Theme

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', the war on their city seems to almost be on the back burner as people concentrate on the more frivolous things in life, like television shows. In this lesson, we will learn more about war in this Ray Bradbury novel.

War at Home

If you knew that war would be declared on your city within the next hour, what would you do? In the dystopian society of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, citizens ignore the warnings and go about their business. They have been kept so distracted with entertainment that they don't have time to think about some of the more serious things in life - like war. Let's find out more.

The citizens are oblivious to signs of war around them.
fighter planes

War Is Imminent

'A radio hummed somewhere. '...war may be declared any hour. This country stands ready to defend its-' The firehouse trembled as a great flight of jet planes whistled a single note across the black morning sky.'

If we heard these words and saw bombers in the air, we would be alarmed, but in Guy Montag's community people are so distracted with frivolous fun, it is as if the citizens are completely unaware of the mounting tension in the world around them. The protagonist, Montag, seems to be the only person who is paying attention: 'Every hour so many damn things in the sky! How in hell did those bombers get up there every single second of our lives! Why doesn't someone want to talk about it?'

No One Seems to Care

Even the families of the military men don't seem to give the war a second thought. When Montag's wife, Mildred, invites over some friends whose husbands are in the army, Montag is shocked at their flippancy when his wife's friend Mrs. Phelps comments: '...the Army called Pete yesterday. He'll be back next week. The Army said so. Quick war. Forty-eight hours they said, and everyone home.' Without a moment's concern, Mrs. Phelps goes on to say that she doesn't believe there is anything to worry about, but if her husband dies, she will simply remarry.

Is It Time for a Revolution?

For the few left in the world that realize that the world has gone mad with its lackadaisical view of death and shallow obsession with meaningless fun, war seems to be the only chance to get things back on track. 'If there were no war, if there was peace in the world, I'd say fine, have fun!' Faber, Montag's co-conspirator on his plans to reprint banned books, pleads with Montag that this is the perfect time for things to change.

Waiting for the World to Self-Destruct

When Montag finds Granger, the leader of a group of people that think like him, he realizes just how far the world has fallen. Granger explains, 'Right now we have a horrible job; we're waiting for the war to begin and, as quickly, end. It's not pleasant, but then we're not in control, we're the odd minority crying in the wilderness. When the war's over, perhaps we can be of some use in the world.'

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