Analysis of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

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The main theme and conflict in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 are the differences between man and society. The protagonist lives in a society where social interactions have been entirely replaced with individuality. Rather than people connecting with another, they prefer connecting with personal assets such as the television set. The protagonist finds himself in a dilemma when he has to choose between going with a flow such that he develops individuality or he resists such societal norms and works to develop and nurture personal relationships through interactions. In this analysis, the manner in which the protagonist wades through this conflict is vividly demonstrated up to the manner in which the conflict is eventually resolved.

            The theme of conflict is primary in this narrative, and hence it is carefully developed in the exposition. Through the conflict of man versus society, other themes are characterized and brought to fore. The conflict theme also sequences the events in this narrative moving towards the climax and eventually to a conclusion. To expound, the conflict is sparked with Guy Montag’s interaction with Clarisse; a pedestrian. The pedestrian triggers Montag to think beyond his complacency and apathy by asking him whether he is happy. The theme of complacency and apathy is also abundant in this society. The protagonist begins to examine his life more objectively which brings forth the conflict.

            From the moment Montag asks the question, the theme of conflict gradually ensures throughout the whole narrative. The protagonist shifts his thought process to be more objective. The alienation of Montag’s wife from him and her apparent apathy also exposes further the theme of conflict. The events push the protagonist to seek a more liberal thought process beyond the shackles of the societal norms. The wife’s burning along with her books is figurative in that it demonstrates that those that cling to social norms instead of pursuing freedom of thought are poised to perish along with those skewed societal ideals once they are proven to be void (Anwar). The wife refuses to acknowledge that their marriage is gradually dying by trying to abuse drugs as an escape mechanism from reality.

            Further, the theme of conflict in the narrative climaxes in the following way. The protagonist sets fire on Beatty to escape. The reason Beatty was killed is that he was aware that Montag was hoarding books in his house which was an illegal act. The penalty for such an act was burning of one’s house. Thus, Montag resolved to kill Beatty before he could burn his house. In a sense, the act allowed Montag to think about escaping from this society that could no longer accommodate his outlook of life. He sets out to continue his more liberal life in another society.

            The conflict of man versus society is solved when the protagonist escapes from society after failing to defeat the status quo. He arrives at Hound where there was no restriction on the reading of books. Violence ensues in his previous society which makes people forget the escaping of Montag. The author employs the literary style of parallelism to try to resolve the conflict of man versus society. 

            Overall, the conflict of man versus represents a lot of scenarios in the real world. In many cases, people are forced to break away from the shackles of society in order to live a more liberal life. Such a break always is not always without their own set of dramas and smaller conflicts.

Work Cited

Anwar, Maria. "Postmodern Dystopian Fiction: An Analysis of Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’." International Journal 4.1 (2016): 246-249.

August 21, 2023




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