Important Quotes from Fahrenheit 451: Examples and Analysis

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

Feeling generally unsatisfied, Montag searches for more depth and purpose in his life. In this lesson, we will look at some of the quotes from 'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury.

Words of Wisdom

Have you ever felt like there has to be more to life than the day-in-day-out drudgery of fulfilling responsibilities? Guy Montag, the protagonist of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, is facing a personal crisis as he begins to realize that he needs more out of life. Along the way, he interacts with a variety of characters that offer their words of wisdom.


By the time Montag meets his young neighbor, Clarisse, he is beginning to feel beat up from living in a world full of people who walk side by side but never connect. Just as he begins to feel used up and thrown away, Clarisse brings new light into his world.

'Why is it,' he said, one time, at the subway entrance, 'I feel I've known you so many years?'

'Because I like you,' she said, 'and I don't want anything from you.'

How many people in your life don't want anything from you? Montag is able to relax with Clarisse because she likes him for who he is without any personal agenda.


After Clarisse dies, Montag tries to connect with his wife, Mildred, in the same way, but she just wants to be left alone. In his frustration, Montag says, 'We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?' Mildred does not even have the capacity to understand what Montag is talking about, as she has no depth to her and wants to keep it that way.

Feeling defeated, Montag seeks out a retired professor named Faber that he met one day in the park. Montag hopes that Faber can teach him about the Bible and help him sort through his life to figure out what is missing. 'Nobody listens any more. I can't talk to the walls because they're yelling at me. I can't talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it'll make sense. And I want you to teach me to understand what I read.'


During their chance meeting in the park, Faber had talked to Montag about poetry. Faber had said, 'I don't talk things, sir. I talk the meaning of things.' The only reason Montag kept Faber's contact information for a year was to possibly investigate him for breaking the censorship laws, but in his desperation to talk to someone who will talk about something other than television shows, Montag seeks him out.


Montag knows that his time is limited because his boss, Captain Beatty, is on to him. Beatty understands Montag's curiosity because he felt the same way at one time, but he is a no-nonsense sort of person who is not going to tolerate a rule-breaker for long. Over time, Beatty has come to believe that the censorship work they do as firemen is important for keeping the citizens happy.

'If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it.' Beatty sees his role as keeping people equal and conflict-free by not giving them too much to think about. Thinking can be dangerous to order and stability.

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