the hearth and the salamander
Background and Allusions
Click these links to find out more about allusions Bradbury uses in the book:
Benjamin Franklin--A printer, thinker and the first fireman
Tower of Babel--according to this Bible passage (Genesis 11:6-8) God created diversity of language
Master Ridley--Words of a protestant martyr
"It is computed... smaller end."--from Gulliver's Travels; this satirical passage points out the absurdity of adhering to ridiculous traditions
Use these questions to guide you as you read and annotate. Any of these, all, and more could be fodder for a test on the first day of class.
- How does Bradbury describe Guy Montag when the reader first meets him?
- What time of year is it as the book starts?
- Describe who Montag meets on his way home.
- What makes Montag uncomfortable about her? What seems unusual about her?
- What does Montag compare his bedroom to? How might this be symbolic?
- Explain what has happened to Mildred. How is it dehumanizing?
- What do the events and conversations in the first 20 pages of the book suggest about Montag's society?
- Compare Clarisse to Mildred. What images does Bradbury attach to each? What are notable differences between the two?
- Describe the unusual "pet" at the firehouse. What is its purpose? How does it react to Montag? Why might this be important?
- Describe schools in this society. What are most of the resulting teenagers like?
- What threat is looming (and announced over the radio)?
- What questions does Montag ask? What answers are given? What does it tell the reader about the firemen?
- How is the call the firemen respond to in this section different than the others in Montag's career?
- How does Montag view his marriage with Mildred? How does Mildred view the marriage?
- What is ironic about Mildred's attachment to her TV parlor?
- What misgivings does Montag have about his work after the incident at the woman's house?
- Why did books come to be burned in the first place?
- Why does Beatty say book burning continues? Why does he say the firemen are providing a service?
- Does Beatty believe everything he is telling Montag? What evidence do you have that supports your answer?
- What is Montag's emotional state after Beatty leaves?
- Explain why Montag has to make a "bargain" with Mildred.
- How has Montag changed from the beginning of the book to the end of part 1?
Reaction prompts -- Not Required!!!
The responses to these questions should be at least a page long (about 500 words) typed (double-spaced in times new roman or arial 12 point type). A quality response will contain well developed thoughts and use specific examples to support thinking. It will be academic in nature (no text-speak and no use of the second person pronoun you), carefully edited for clarity of thought, and free of spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes. If you need to see examples, there are several posted here. Please be authentic and write what YOU think, not what you think I want to see. Submit all reactions to the corresponding space on turnitin.com by Aug. 10, 2013 at 10 p.m.
- Response 1: After the medical handymen leave, Montag reflects "There are too many of us...There are billion of us and that's too many. Nobody knows anyone" (14). What is the difference between alienation and solitude? What forces alienate people from one another in Montag's society? Which these forces are alienating factors in our own society? How are Montag's sense of alienation and Clarisse asking Montag if he is happy linked?
- Response 2: Early in the book, Mildred asks Guy when they can get their fourth TV parlor wall installed (about $20,000, if adjusted). According to the Nielsen Company, in 2011 31% of U.S. households had four or more TVs. In what ways does technology serve us? In what ways does it harm us? How can we know we're striking a healthy balance?
- Response 3: Over the years Bradbury has taken issue with those who see Fahrenheit451 as a story about the dangers of censorship. Beatty says, "It didn't come from the government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God" (55). Does his speech reflect our society in any way? After reading Beatty's explanation, what do you think? Do intellectual pursuits lead more to happiness or unhappiness? Are the firemen doing society a favor as Beatty contends?