In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag lives in a dystopian-futuristic society where people burn books. In his society, it is illegal to own and read a book, ask questions and drive slow on the highway. Montag is dealing with a conflict within himself and his destructive society. He needs to decide whether or not he should remain a conformist to his societies ways, thus continuing his lifestyle of unhappiness or he can go against his society. The choice Montag made was to break the “conformist routine” and become the individual he wants to be, even if it means going against his wife and occupation.
When Montag leaves the city, he runs away to hide from the mechanical hounds (trackers) that are chasing him to his death for his illegal ways. On his run, he finds security in a river just outside the city, and jumps in to escape the mechanical hound. The river is symbolic of freedom and rebirth in Montag’s life. The allusion of the Phoenix who builds its own pyre to burn in its ashes to become reborn is very relevant towards Montag’s situation. As he arises from the river it is as if Montag becomes reborn and has completed the transformation from a conformist and a free thinker.
The theme of conformity is visible throughout Fahrenheit 451. In Montag’s society, you are obligated to be a conformist to the societies ways. You are not allowed to read books in Montag’s society because they provide knowledge and make people smarter than one another. In the book it says that its not books that provide us knowledge, its what’s in books that provide us knowledge.