Fahrenheit 451

AutorBradbury, Ray, 1920-2012
PealkiriFahrenheit 451 / Ray Bradbury
IlmunudNew York : Ballantine books, c1953
ViideBradbury, Ray 1953. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine Books.

Explanatory remark: These passages are quoted here without any comments because they constitute the "object of study" in my BA theses. That is, I am going to analyze and comment them more thoroughly in the process of academic writing. Most of them are in some way related to nonverbal behaviour and communication, or at least this will be the prism through which I will be continually re-reading them during the current academic year.
Montag grinned the fierce grin of all men singed and driven back by flame. (Bradbury 1953: 3)
The last few nights he had the most uncertaing feelings about the sidewalk just around the corner here, moving in the starlight toward his house. He had felt that a moment prior to his making the turn someone had been there. The air seemed charged with a special calm as if someone waited there, quietly, and only a moment before he came, simply turned to a shadow and let him through. Perhaps his nose detected a faint perfume, perhaps the skin on the backs on his hands, on his face, felt the temperature rise at this one spot where a person's standing might raise the immediate atmosphere ten degreed for an instant. There was no understanding it. (Bradbury 1953: 4)
The autumn leaves blew over the moonlit pavement in such a way as to make the girl who was moving there seem fixed to a sliding walk, letting motion of the wind and the leaves carry her forward. Her head was half bent to watch her shoes stir the circling leaves. Her face was slender and milk-white, and in it was a kind of gentle hunger that touched over everything with tireless curiosity. It was a look, almost of pale surprise; the dark eyes were so fixed to the world that no move escaped them. Her dress was white and it shispered. He almost thought he heard the motion of her hands as she walked, and the infinitely small sound now, the white stir of her face turning when she discovered she was a moment away from a man who stood in the middle of the pavement waiting. (Bradbury 1953: 5)
"I'd - I'd have known it with my eyes shut," she said, slowly.
"What - the smell of kerosene? (Bradbury 1953: 5)
They walked the rest of the way in silence, hers thoughtful, his a kind of clenching and uncomfortable silence in which he shot her accusing glances. When they reached her house all its lights were blazing.
"What's going on?" Montag had rarely seen that many house lights.
"Oh, just my mother and father and uncle sitting around, talking. It's like being a pedestrian, only rarer. My uncle was arrested another time - did I tell you? - for being a pedestrian. Oh we're most peculiar." (Bradbury 1953: 8)
He felt his smile slide away, melt, fold over and down on itself like a tallow skin, like the stuff of a fantastic candle burning too long and now collapsing and now blown out. He said the words to himself. He recognized this is the true state of affairs. He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door to ask for it back. (Bradbury 1953: 11)
Laughter blew across the moon-colored lawn from the house of Clarisse and her father and mother and the uncle who smiled so quietly and so earnestly. Above all, their laughter was relaxed and hearty and not forced in any way, coming from the house that was so brightly lit this late at night while all the other houses were kept to themselves in darkness. Montag heard the voices talking, talking, talking, giving, talking, weaving, revweaving their hypnotic web. (Bradbury 1953: 15)
"How did it start? How did you get into it? How did you pick your work and how did you happen to think to take the job you have? You're not like the others. I've seen a few; I know. When I talk, you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night. The others would never do that. The others would walk off and leave me talking. Or threaten me. No one has time any more for anyone else. You're one of the few who put up with me. That's why I think it's so strange you're a fireman, it just doesn't seem right for you, somehow."
He felt his body divide itself into a hotness and coldness, a trembling and a not trembling, the two halves grinding one upon the other.
"You'd better run on to your appointment," he said.
And she ran off and left him standing there in the rain. Only after a long time did he move.
And then, very slowly, as he walked, he tilted his head back in the rain, for just a few moments, and opened his mouth. ... (Bradbury 1953: 21-22)
"Hello," whispered Montag, fascinated as always with the dead beast, the living beast.
Nights when things go dull, which was every night, the men slid down the brass oles, and set the ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the Hound and let loose rats in the firehouse areaway and sometimes chickens, and sometimes cats that would have to be drowned anyway, and there would be betting to see which of the cats of chickens or rats the Hound would seize first. The animals were turned loose. Three seconds later the game was done, the rat, cat, or chicken caught half across the areaway, gripped in gentling paws while a four-inch hollow steel needle plunged down from the proboscis of the Hound to inject massive jolts of morphine or procaine. The pawn was then tossed in the incinerator. A new game began.
Montag stayed upstairs most nights when this went on. There had been a time two years ago when he had bet with the best of them, and lost a week's salary and faced Mildred's insane anger, which showed itself in veins and blotches. But now nights he lay in his bunk, face turned to the wall, listening to the whoops of laughter below and the piano-string scurry of rat feet, the violin squeaking of mice, and the great shadowing, motioned silence of the Hound leaping out like a moth in the raw light, finding, holding its victim, inserting needle and going back to its kennel to die as if a switch had been turned. (Bradbury 1953: 22-23)
"But most of all," she said, "I like to watch people. Sometimes I ride the subway all day and look at them and listen to them. I just want to figure out who they are and what they want and where they're going. Sometimes I even go to the Fun Parks and ride in the jet cars when they race on the edge of town at midnight and the police don't care as long as they're insured. As long as everyone has ten thousand insurance everyone's happy. Sometimes I sneak around and listen in subways. Or I listen at soda fountains, and do you know what?"
"People don't talk about anything."
"Oh, they must!"
"No, not anything. They name a lot of cars or clothes or swimming pools mostly and say how swell! But they all say the same things and nobody says anything different from anyone else. And most of the time in the cafes they have the joke-boxes on and the same jokes most of the time, or the musical wall lit and all the colored patterns running up and down, but it's only color and all abstract. And the museums, have you ever been? All abstract. That's all there is now. My uncle says it was different once. A long time back sometimes pictures said things or even showed people." (Bradbury 1953: 28)
Montag blinked. Beatty was looking at him as if he were a museum statue. At any moment, Beatty might rise and walk about him, touching, exploring his guilt and self-consciousness. (Bradbury 1953: 30)
Had he ever seen a fireman that didn't have black hair, black brows, a fiery face, and a blue-steel shaved but unshaved look? These men were all mirror images of himself! Were all firemen picked then for their looks as well as their proclivities? (Bradbury 1953: 30)
They hurried downstairs, Montag staggering after them in the kerosene fumes.
"Come on, woman!"
The woman knelt among the books, touching the drenched leather and cardboard, reading the gilt titles with her fingers while her eyes accused Montag. (Bradbury 1953: 35)
They said nothing on their way back to the firehouse. Nobody looked at anyone else. Montag sat in the front seat with Beatty and Black. They did not even smoke their pipes. They sat there looking out the front of the great Salamander as they turned a corner and went silently on. (Bradbury 1953: 36)
"Millie...?" he wispered.
"I didn't mean to stratle you. What I want to know is..."
"When did we meet? And where?"
"When did we meet for what?" she asked.
"I mean - originally."
He knew she must be frowning in the dark. (Bradbury 1953: 39)
He lay massaging his eyes, his brow, and the back of his neck, slowly. He held both hands over his eyes and applied a steady pressure there as if to crush his memory into place. It was suddenly more important than any other thing in a lifetime that he know where he had met Mildred. (Bradbury 1953: 39)
And he thought of her lying on the bed with the two technicians standing straight over her, not bent with concern, but only standing straight, arms folded. And he remembered thinking then that if she died, he was certain he wouldn't cry. For it would be the dying of an unknown, a street face, a newspaper image, and it was suddenly so very wront that he had begun to cry, not at death but at the thought of not crying at death, a silly empty man near a silly empty woman, while the hungry snake made her still more empty.
How do you get so empty? he wondered. Who takes it out of you? And that awful flower the other day, the dandelion! It had summed up everything, hadn't it? "What a shame! You're not in love with anyone!" And why not? (Bradbury 1953: 40)
"You should've thought of that before becoming a fireman."
"Thought!" he said. "Was I given a choice? My grandfather and father were firemen. In my sleep, I ran after them." (Bradbury 1953: 47)
"Let me alone," said Mildred. "I didn't do anything."
"Let you alone! That's all very well, but how can I leave myself alone? We need not be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something imporant, about something real?" (Bradbury 1953: 47)
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. Today, thanks to them, ou can stay happy all the time, you are allowed to read comics, the good old confessions, or trade-journals. (Bradbury 1953: 53)
Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally 'bright,' did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn't it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. (Bradbury 1953: 53)
"...Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melanchony. Any man who can take a TV wall apart and put it back together again, and most men can, nowadays, is happier than any man who tries to slide-rule, measure, and equate the universe, which just won't be measured or equated without making man feel bestial and lonely. I know, I've tried it; to hell with it. So bring on your clubs and parties, your acrobats and magicians, your daredevils, jet cars, motorcycle helicopters, your sex and heroin, more of everything to do with automatic reflex. If the drama is bad, if the film says nothing, if the play is hollow, sting me with the theremin, loudly. I'll think I'm responding to the play, when it's only a tactile reaction to vibration. But I don't care. I just like solid entertainment." (Bradbury 1953: 56)
The converter attachment, which had cost them one hundred dollars, automatically supplied her name whenever the announcer addressed his anonymous audience, leaving a blank where the proper syllables could be filled in. A special spot-wavex-scrambler also caused his televised image, in the area immediately about his lips, to mouth the vowels and consonants beautifully. (Bradbury 1953: 58)
Mildred backed away as if she were confronted by a pack of mice that had come up out of the floor. he could hear her breathing rapidly and her face was paled out and her eyes were fastened wide. She said his name over, twice, three times. Then, moaning, she ran forward, seized a book and ran toward the kitchen incinerator.
He caught her, shrieking. He held her and she tried to fight away from him, scratching. (Bradbury 1953: 60)
They read the long afternoon through, while the cold November rain fell from the sky upon the quiet house. They sat in the hall because the parlor was too empty and gray-looking without its walls lit with orange and yellow confetti and skyrockets and women in goldmesh dresses and men in black velvet pulling one-hundred-pound rabbits from silver hats. The parlor was dead and Mildred kept peering in at it with a blank expression as Montag paced the floor and came back and squatted down and read a page as many as ten times, aloud. (Bradbury 1953: LK)
He opened another book.
" 'That favorite subject, Myself.' "
He squinted at the wall. " 'That favorite subject, Myself.' "
"I understand that one," said Mildred.
"But Clarisse's favorite subject wasn't herself. it was everyone else, and me. She was the first person in a good many years I've really liked. She was the first person I can remember who looked straight at me as if I counted." He lifter the two books. "These men have been dead a long time, but I know their words point, one way or another, to Clarisse." (Bradbury 1953: 64)
Mildred kicked at a book. "Books aren't people. You read and I look all around, but there isn't anybody!"
"Now," said Mildred, "my 'family' is people. They tell me things, I laugh, they laugh! And the colors!" (Bradbury 1953: 64)
Faber held his hand over his left coat pocket and spoke these words gently, and Montag knew if he reached out, he might pull a book of poetry from the man's coat. But he did not reach out. His hands stayed on his knees, numbed and useless. "I don't talk things, sir," said Faber. "I talk the meaning of things. I sit here and know I'm alive." (Bradbury 1953: 66)
Montag stopped at the door, with his back turned. "Millie?"
A silence. "What?"
"Millie? Does the White Clown love you?"
No answer.
"Millie, does -" He licked his lips. "Does your 'family' love you, love you very much, love you with all their heart and soul, Millie?"
He felt her blinking slowly at the back of his neck. "Why'd you ask a silly question like that?"
He felt he wanted to cry, but nothing would happen to his eyes or his mouth. (Bradbury 1953: 68-69)
I'm numb, he thought. When did the numbness really begin in my face? In my body? The night I kicked the pill-bottle in the dark, like kicking a buried mine.
The numbness will go away, he thought. It'll take time, but I'll do it, or Faber will do it for me. Someone somwehere will give me back the old face and the old hands the way they were. Even the smile, he thought, the old burnt-in smile, that's gone. I'm lost without it. (Bradbury 1953: 69)
"Denham's dental detergent."
"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" It was a plea, a cry so terrible that Montag found himself on his feet, the shocked inhabitants of the loud car staring, moving back from this man with the insane, gorged face, the gibbering, dry mouth, the flapping book in his fist. (Bradbury 1953: 70)
He ran on the white tiles up through the tunnels, ignoring the escalators, because he wanted to feel his feet move, arms swing, lungs clench, unclench, feel his throat go raw with air. (Bradbury 1953: 71)
Faber turned the pages. "Mr. Montag, you are looking at a coward. I saw the way things were going, a long time back. I said nothing. I'm one of the innocents who could have spoken up and out when no one would listen to the 'guilty', but I did not speak and thus became guilty myself. And when finally they set the structure to burn the books, using the firemen, I grunted a few times and subsided, for there were no others grunting or yelling with me, by then. Now, it's too late." Faber closed the Bible. (Bradbury 1953: 73)
"You're a hopeless romantic," said Faber. "It would be funny if it were not serious. It's not books you need, it's some of the things that once were in books. The same things could be in the 'parlor families' today. The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through the radios and televisors, but are not. No, no, it's not books at all you're looking for! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stiched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.
Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You'd find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more 'literary' you are. That's my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.
So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless. (Bradbury 1953: 73-74)
Number one, as I said, quality of information. Number two: leisure to digest it. And number three: the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two. (Bradbury 1953: 75)
"Good night, good night."
Montag's hands picked up the Bible. He saw what his hands had done and he looked surprised. (Bradbury 1953: 78)
The old man said nothing but glanced once more nervously, at his bedroom. Montag caught the glance.
"Well?" (Bradbury 1953: 80)
"I'm not thinking. I'm just doing like I'm told, like always. You said get the money and I got it. I didn't really think of it myself. When do I start working things out on my own?" (Bradbury 1953: 82)
Montag reached inside the parlor wall and pulled the main switch. The images drained away, as if the water had been let from a gigantic crystal bowl of hysterical fish.
The three woman turned slowly and looked with unconcealed irritation and then dislike at Montag. (Bradbury 1953: 84)
"...Stick with the firemen, Montag. All else is dreary chaos!" [Beatty] (Bradbury 1953: 96)
"Well," said Beatty, "now you did it. Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that he's burnt his damn wings, he wonders why. Didn't I hint enough when I sent the Hound around your place?"
Montag's face was entirely numb and featureless; he felt his head turn like a stone carving to the dark place next door, set in its bright border of flowers. (Bradbury 1953: 100)
She ran past with her body stiff, her face floured with powder, her mouth gone, without lipstick. (Bradbury 1953: 100)
Beatty struck him a blow on the head that sent him reeling back. The green bullet in which Faber's voice whispered and cried, fell to the sidewalk. Beatty snatched it up, grinning. He held it half in, half out of his ear.
Montag heard the distant voice calling, "Montag, you all right?"
Beatty switched the green bullet off and thrust it in his pocket. "Well - so there's more here than I thought. I saw you tilt your head, listening. First I thought you had a Seashell. But when you turned clever later, I wondered. We'll trace this and drop it on your friend."
"No!" said Montag.
He twitched the safety catch on the flame-thrower. Beatty glanced instantly at Montag's fingers and his eyes widened the faintest bit. Montag saw the surprise there and himself glanced to his hands to see what new thing they had done. Thinking back later he could never decide whether the hands or Beatty's reaction to the hands gave him the final push toward murder. The lastt rolling thunder of the avalanche stoned down about his ears, not touching him. (Bradbury 1953: 105)
The air over and above the vast concrete river trembled with the warmth of Montag's body alone; it was incredible how he felt his temperature could cause the whole immediate world to vibrate. (Bradbury 1953: 111)
"-nose so sensitive the Mechanical Hound can remember and identify ten thousand odor indexes on ten thousand men without re-setting!"
Faber trembled the least bit and looked about at his house, at the walls, the door, teh doorknob, and the chair where Montag now sat. Montag saw the look: They both looked quickly about the house and Montag felt his nostrils dilate and he knew that he was trying to track himself and his nose was suddenly good enough to sense the path he had made in the air of ther oom and the sweat of his hand hung from the doorknob, invisible but as numerous as the jewels of a small chandelier, he was everywhere, in and on and about everything, he was a luminous cloud, a ghost that made breathing once more impossible. He saw faber stop his own breath for fear of drawning that ghost into his own body, perhaps, being contaminated with the phantom exhalation and odors of a running man. (Bradbury 1953: 118-119)
If he wished, he could linger here, in comfort, and follow the entire hunt on through its swift phases, down alleys, across streets, over empty running avenues, crossing lots and playgrounds, with pauses here and there for the necessary commercials, up other alleys to the burning house of Mr. and Mrs. Blackm, and so on finally to this house with Faber and himself seated, drinking, while the Electric Hound snuffed down the last trail, silent as a drift of death itself, skidding to a halt outside that window there. Then, if he wished, Montag might rise, walk to the window, keep one eye on the TV screen, open the window, leap out, look back, and see himself dramatized, described, made over, standing there, limned in the bright small television screen from outside, a drama to be watched objectively, knowing that in other parlors he was large as life, in full color, dimensionally perfect! and if he kept his eye peeled quickly he would see himself, an instant before oblivion, being puncture for the benefit of how many civilian parlor-sitters who had been wakened from sleep a few minutes ago by the frantic sirening of their living room walls to come watch the big game, the hunt, the one-man carnival. (Bradbury 1953: 119)
he was three hundred yards downstream when the Hound reached the river. Overhead the great racketing fans of the helicopters hovered. A storm of light fell upon the river and Montag dived under the great illumination as if the sun had broken the clouds. He felt the river pull him further on its way, into darkness. Then the lights switched back to the land, the helocopters swerved over the city again, as if they had picked up another trail. They were gone. The Hound was gone. Now there was only the cold river and Montag floating in a sudden peacefulness, away from the city and the lights and the chase, away from everything.
He felt as if he had left a stage behind and many actors. He felt as if he had left the great seance and all the murmuring ghosts. He was moving from an unreality that was frightening into a reality that was unreal because it was new. (Bradbury 1953: 124)
It was not burning, it was warming.
He saw many hands held to its warmth, hands without arms, hidden in darkness. Above the hands, motionless faces that were only moved and tossed and flickered with firelight. He hadn't known fire could look this way. He had never thought in his life that it could give as well as take. Even its smell was different. (Bradbury 1953: 130)
The voices talked of everything, there was nothing they could not talk about, he knew, from the very cadence and motion and continual stir of curiosity and wonder in them. (Bradbury 1953: 130)
A voice cried, "There's Montag! The search is done!"
The innocent man stood bewildered, a cigarette burning in his hand. He stared at the Hound, not knowing what it was. He probably never knew. He glanced up at the sky and the wailing sirens. The camera rushed down. The Hound leapt up into the air with a rhythm and a sense of timing that was incredibly beautiful. Its needle shot out. It was suspended for a moment in their gaze, as if to give the vast audience time to appreciate everything, the raw look of the victim's face, the empty street, the steel animal a bullet nosing the target. (Bradbury 1953: 133)
But I've forgotten!"
"No, nothing's ever lost. We have ways to shake down your clinkers for you."
"But I've tried to remember!"
"Don't ry. It'll come when we need it. All of us have photographic memories, but spend a lifetime learning how to block off the things that are really in there. Simmons here has worked on it for twenty years and now we've got the method down to where we can recall anything that's been read once. Would you like, some day, Montag, to read Plato's Republic?" (Bradbury 1953: 134-135)
Garner stood looking back with Montag. "Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Ora garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there. It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime." (Bradbury 1953: 140)


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