Identity in Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

Identity in Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

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Is that honestly yourself who decides to take the action that you just did? The answer should be yes, however, the main character of the book called “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury would answer no. This book is a science fiction which takes place in an unnamed futuristic city. The main character named Montag starts to doubt on the society and tries to find out the truth by going over many happenings and meeting with key people. Within this story, identity is one of the main themes, and Montag shows his importance through himself. As he makes his journey of discovery, he gradually loses his own identity such as mind, body, and even existence, and causes identity crisis as he takes of the characteristics of the people he meets.
The first of all, Montag loses his control over his own mind. At the beginning of the story, he meets a beautiful girl called Clarisse. She is a peculiar girl who wonders about the society and how people live in there. She tells Montag the beauty of the nature, and also questions him about his job and life. Though he has been proud of being a fireman, Clarisse says, “I think it’s so strange you’re a fireman, it just doesn’t seem right for you, somehow” (21). Montag feels “his body divide itself into a hotness and a coldness, a softness and a hardness, a trembling and a not trembling, the two halves grinding one upon the other” (21) by her words. Everything Clarisse says is something new to him and he gradually gets influenced a lot by this mysterious girl. Actually, the impact of the girl is too significant that his mind is taken over by her when he talks with Beatty, the captain of the firemen. “Suddenly it seemed a much younger voice was speaking for him. He opened his mouth and it was Clarisse McClellan saying, ‘Didn’t firemen prevent fires rather than stoke them up and get them going?’” (31). His mind is not controlled by himself in this part. He takes of Clarisse’s mind and it causes confusion within his mind. It can be said that this happening is an introduction of him losing his entire identity.
The next thing he loses is the control of his own body. When he meets with Faber, an old retired English professor, he is given a tool called green bullet.

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It enables Faber’s voice to be heard whenever and wherever within Montag. It also allows Faber to know the situation where Montag is in by hearing what Montag and the other person talk, so that Faber describes Montag as “the traveling ear” (87). Faber directs Montag the best way to do in each scenes and it makes Montag to say, “I’m not thinking. I’m just doing like I’m told, like always” (88). It is clear from his words that he is not thinking and deciding what to do on his own. He takes actions as if he is a precisive robot that is controlled by Faber. What people call Montag is now mixing up with two characters, and he knows this situation and says, “he would not be Montag anymore, this the old man told him, assured him, promised him. He would be Montag-plus-Faber, fire plus water, and then, one day, after everything had mixed and simmered and worked away in silence, there would be neither fire nor water, but wine” (99). Montag is not Montag since Faber gets in his mind and controls his body, but it says that he is not Faber either. That “Montag” is someone else without having identities on his own.
At last, Montag loses his existence and becomes a completely different mankind. Montag tries to escape from the police and then he reaches to the forest where the book people live. At there, he is given a small bottle from Granger, who seems the leader of the small group. “He held out a small bottle of colorless fluid. ‘Drink this, too. It’ll change the chemical index of your perspiration. Half an hour from now you’ll smell like two other people’” (140). We all have distinct smells on our own and animals such as dogs decide their owners by the unique smells each owners have. Although smell is the valuable key to distinguish Mr. A from Mr. B, Montag loses that important characteristic here in the book. Human beings are still able to recognize Montag by his face, but other animals no longer able to identify him. Therefore, his presence is gone from animals’ minds. Moreover, as the story goes on, Montag loses his entire existence. The police are in need to kill Montag since they lose his sight, so they make a stranger the scapegoat of Montag and decide to kill the man. After the police killing the scapegoat, a reporter says, “The search is over, Montag is dead; a crime against society has been avenged” (142). Even though the real Montag survives in the forest, Montag is killed in the people’s minds and now that becomes the steady fact that people believe. He is not what people called Montag anymore. He is just a man with Montag’s face. At last, Montag decides to live as a part of the Bible, and Granger says, “you are the Book of Ecclesiastes. See how important you’ve become in the last minute!” (144). Now, the significance of his entity is to remember the contents of the book and pass them on to next generations. What he becomes is not even a mankind but a part of a book and he completely loses his existence of being Guy Montag.
From the beginning to the end, Montag’s identity is gradually being lost and he becomes an absolutely new person. He takes on another person’s mind, body, and existence through meeting with such people. He used to be very proud of whom he is as being a fireman, but many of the happenings and people affect enough to make him doubt on his life. Since Montag is killed in public mind, there is no Montag anymore and he becomes a dust jacket for the Ecclesiastes. Therefore, the old Montag is gone, but another new story which goes on by the brand new “Montag” is just getting started.



Works Cited

Bradbury, Ray. “Fahrenheit 451.” New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks 2013.
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