Stephen RauchMrs. HentgesAP Lang and Comp21 December 2017Quarter2 Dialectical JournalsFahrenheit451Section 1- The Hearth and theSalamanderSynopsisof Section 1 Title- The hearth, by definition, is a noun that can representeither the floor of a fireplace or a symbol on one’s home.
As the reader beginsreading section 1 they have no idea of all the events to come and how theybuild on the plot. But, as the reader comes to a close, the irony in thissection, titled, “The Hearth and the Salamander” begins to show itself. Inshort, the salamander is a symbol of the firemen while the hearth serves assymbolism to the relationship of Montag and others, or lack thereof.
Journal 1- “Thesalamander devours his tail” (86)! Responseto Journal 1-Throughoutthe book Montag goes from enjoying his fireman position, and all the bookburning that comes along with it, to plotting attacks against other fireman andtaking revenge for their cruel acts. The reason for Montag’s shift, and why hewent from burning books to reading them, is because he realized that thesociety he lives in now is a generally unhappy place; however, he can remembersociety in the past as being happy, so what has changed he asked himself? Hepieces it together and realizes that because of books disappearing andbasically whipped off the earth, there must be something enjoyable about themhe just needed some proof to support his hypothesis. That’s when an old ladydecides to burn herself along with her house fill of books, this shows Montag thatthere must be something truly compelling about books if she is willing to diefor them. Montag was so intrigued by her sacrifice he decides to steal one ofher books and see what the big fuss is. Compelled to end the fireman system,Montag calls on a friend Faber and they devise an insidious plan to plant booksin fireman’s houses. This is where the quote gets its meaning.
When asalamander eats it’s a chunk of his tail, he is essentially an animal killingitself, so when Montag plants a book in another fireman’s house he is forcingthat fireman to burn down his own house. This is a subtle but fantastic analogyBradbury includes to relate the firemen to animals for essentially killingthemselves. Section 2- The Sieve and the SandSynopsisof Section 2 Title- A sieve is essentially a filter that sifts the bigparticles from the small particles and in this instance; Ray Bradbury isreferring to a sieve sifting through sand. Montag recalls a memory in thissection of when he was just a little kid, playing with a sieve and some sand ashe watched the sand slowly slip through the sieve until it’s all gone. Thissymbolizes how the ideas that have been drilled into Montag’s, and othersocietal members, head from the government are beginning to be drained as herealizes the importance of reading. Journal 2-“…trying to fill asieve with sand…and the faster he poured the faster it sifted through with ahot whispering. His hands were tired, the sand was boiling, the sieve wasempty” (78). Response toJournal 2-Throughoutthe section, “The Sieve and the Sand” Montag has struck a moral dilemmainvolving the book he stole from the old ladies house, and how it may be thelast bible in existence.
He contemplates giving Beatty, his fire chief, a substitutebook but he realizes that if Beatty knows which book he took, then he Beattymight think he has a multitude of books. He decides the best option is toproduce a duplicate copy. As his wife stays home with two other friends,engrossed in television, Montag decides to take the subway to Faber’s and onthe way, tries to quickly skim the bible and memorize verses. Montag arrives atFaber’s with the bible, alleviating Faber of his fears, and asks him to teachhim how to understand what he means. Faber suggests that Montag doesn’tunderstand the real reason for his unhappiness but rather that he is guessingthe disappearance of books to unhappiness-because that’s all he knows of thathas disappeared. After some conversing, Faber finally insists to Montag that itis not the book themselves but rather the meaning they hold.
Faber goes on todescribe how other existing sources of media, such as television and radio, cancontain the same meaning it’s just not demanded anymore. The symbol of, “TheSieve and the Sand”, comes from one of Montag’s childhood memories of trying tofill a sieve with sand on a beach to get a dime from his cousin. He comparesthis memory and the futility of the task to his attempt to read the whole bibleas quickly as possible on the subway ride to Faber’s in hopes that he willretain some of the material.
In this memory, the sand is symbolic of the truth,the truth that Montag seeks throughout the novel, while the sieve is the humanmind actively seeking that truth. This metaphor simply suggests that truth iselusive and impossible to grasp in any permanent way.Journal 2B-Doyou know why books such as this are important? Because they have quality. Andwhat does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores” Responseto Journal 2B- This quote comes about when Faber isexplaining the importance of books to Montag. He says it is not the booksthemselves that Montag is searching for but rather the meaning they hold.
Faberstates that Montag is in search of “quality” which he Professor Faber definesas “texture” or the details of life and authentic experience. Not only dopeople need quality information but they need the leisure to digest it and thefreedom to act on it. With Faber’s comment that books have “pores” this bringsback the sieve that Montag tried to fill with sand. Just like Montag trying toread so much in such little time, reading in general is just like trying tofill a sieve with sand, the words sift through your mind before you can evenfinish reading.Section 3- Burning BrightSynopsisof Section 3 Title- Throughout the story a lot of burning takes place albeitthe burning of books, houses or even people in particular cases. This sectionis when things start to get going, Montag gets arrested for the possession ofbooks, he is forced to burn down his house, in the process of burning down hishouse he turns on his fire chief (Beatty) and burns him to ashes with theflamethrower. From here he makes a run for it after being followed by themechanical hound, which was programmed to his scent, and he travels into thecountry where he finds the book people, a group of highly intellectual peoplethat decided to run away from modern society. Throughout his stay with the bookpeople, he becomes very knowledgeable given all the time he has to read andlearn.
This is where the section title gets its meaning. Bradbury used “BurningBright” as a title because not only was the city going into war and burningbright, as they were on fire, but this could also be interpreted as Montag’smind burning bright or being metaphorically on fire with all the knowledge hehas acquired from books. The section of , “The Sieve and the Sand”, teachesMontag that it is not the disappearance of books themselves causing society tobe unhappy but rather the disappearance of demand.
The society he lives in nolonger demands meaning but would rather live peacefully following the conformitiesset in place by the government. The people of the society Montag lives in areunwilling to accept basic realities and hardships so they all just follow theleader and do what is expected of them, which, in turn causes a very bland,uniform, and indifferent community.Journal 3-“The sun burnt every day. It burnt Time . . . Timewas busy burning the years and the people anyway, without any help from him. So,if he burnt things with the firemen and the sun burntTime, that meant that everything burnt”!Response to Journal 3-Toward the end of section 3,”Burning Bright” Montag floats down a river while on his escape mission fromthe treacherous unknown burning city.
On his journey down the river he sees thestars for the first time in years and is finally able to think about what Fabertold him he would need, in order to regain his normal lifestyle. Through thisleisure, many thoughts run through his head and he starts to think deeply onthe sun and its burning. He first starts with the moon and realizes it gets itslight from the sun. The sun burns with its own fire and flames and is relatedto time, so he thinks, if the sun burns time then time will burn away the yearsand if time burns away the years, the years will burn away the people;therefore, the sun must burn away people.
Not only does Montag realize that thesun burns away people, he realizes that fireman burn away books and houses andtherefore everything in the world is burning. Through this thought process heconcludes that because the sun will likely not stop burning then he and thefireman must stop, if not the world will just keep burning and nobody willunderstand the true happiness that comes along with a world without burning. ThroughBradbury’s use of anaphora and the repetition of the word ‘burning’, he is ableto communicate a sense of revelation that Montag experiences. Through thisrevelation is a subtle suggestion that ex-firemen must redefine their ingrainedconceptions of fire and burning, therefore discovering and redefining theiridentity and purpose.
This is what happens to Montag as he realizes his life asa fireman shouldn’t be to burn down buildings but rather stop the buildingsfrom burning down. Does Montag even want to be a fireman though, or was thatjust the preconception that he had engraved in his head from a young age?