Examples: Fahrenheit 451

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For this assignment about motif analysis, I chose the references to darkness and light. This motif significantly establishes the development of the characters in Fahrenheit 451. Two examples are when the Narrator talks about Montag’s first introduction to Clarisse. Bradbury says “Her face was slender and milk-white, and in it was a kind of gentle hunger that touched over everything with tireless curiosity… Her dress was white and it whispered.” Just by hearing that you can make a mental image of what Clarisse looks like and acts like. Similar to how he uses light to introduce Clarisse, he uses darkness to introduce the firemen. He says “They and their charcoal hair and soot-colored brows and bluish-ash-smeared cheeks where they had shaven close…Had he ever seen a fireman that didn’t have black hair, black brows, fiery face, and a blue-steel shaved but unshaved look?” This also makes a mental picture showing the darkness and evilness that the firemen bring to the society.

Light and darkness also helps develop theme. In the book there is the theme of fire as protection and fire as destruction and loss. “One time, as a child, in a power failure, his mother had found and lit a last candle and there had been a brief hour of rediscovery, of such illumination that space lost its vast dimensions and drew comfortably around them, and they, mother and son, alone, transformed, hoping that the power might not come on again too soon. . . .” This shows how fire can protect them from the dark. The second example is at the very beginning when the narrator says “It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.” This shows how obsession the firemen can get involved in, in their daily routines and jobs. It is a really evil, dark, and destructive way of life but it was best described through the use of darkness.

The motif of light and darkness are used multiple times in this novel to characters and theme.
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