If someone asked you, what do Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, E.E. Cummings, Buddha, Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain, and other leading people have in common? Besides the many obvious facts, they all shared a common viewpoint. This view, was expressed in many different ways, all sharing the same meaning. What is this? As E.E. Cummings said, "The hardest battle you will ever fight is the battle to be yourself and never stop fighting it" they all thought that in our world, it is very hard to bend with the wind, yet still be yourself. How do different Authors portray this? All with their own style of writing, in the forms of essays, novels, teachings, and many others
I believe that trying to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change who you are is the hardest thing you will ever do. It is very rare to find in this time period, a novel so clear in it's message against peer pressure. One of these treasures -Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, is devoted to denouncing the, "Ignorance is bliss" mind set of most people in the time period it is set in. This novel provides a glance into a bleak world similar to our own, where war is common, feelings are shunned, family is non-existent, and intense though is no longer needed. And who should be the policemen of this world of ignorance? The "firemen." Not unlike the firemen in our world today, they dress alike, drive big trucks, and wail their loud sirens., however, There is one fundamental difference, these firemen start fires; they cleanse the country of evil books and of their sin. And who should play the heartless, unfeeling, cold-warm fireman but Guy Montag. His father was a fireman, and his father's father as well, so what other job could there be for a man like him? Monatg has this same problem himself, and tries to answer it before time runs out, and life goes back to it's ignorant bliss. Montag is like all the other characters in the beginning of F451: loving his job, never questioning an authority that has given him all the reasons obey. This all changes though when, while walking home from work, he encounters a young girl named Clarisse, who, through her innocence and oblivion to the world around her, shows him that society is crumbling around him and that he can be a part of the solution, not as everyone else is
the problem. For the first time in his life, he questions what he sees around him: his wife overdosing on pills, Clarisse getting hit by a speeding car and killed, and even the book burning which he does every night for money. Or was it amusement? Either way, curiosity gets the better of him as he "steals" a book from a raging fire during one of his raids. As he looks at the woman who owns the hidden library which is about to be burned and who would rather die with her books then live in a jail, he starts think how important something is that you would die for it. Of course, the other firemen dismissed the old woman as mad. Montag starts to wonder if he will end up the same.
The next morning, Montag is physically and emotionally sick,. Realizing his wife would rather watch TV than care for him; that the world is an empty, cruel place; and that there are things out there which are worth dying for makes him even more so. After deciding to stay home from work, he receives a visit from the fire chief, who tells him the "evils" of books; among them that they make stupid people feel inferior to smart people, and that they can invoke "unnecessary" feelings of sadness and anger. Apparently, his Utopian society is one of no diversity and no independent thought. Is it not the flaws and beauties of each individual that make them themselves? Upon leaving, Montag feels even sicker. The fire chief hints that he knows of Montag's stealing a book from the burning house and clues that the "criminal" has twenty-four hours to return it. It is that very book that he soon forces himself to show to his wife, who, obviously, is taken aback by the boldness of his action. He shows her his "collection" of books as well, a small but significant amount. They sit and read all day, until her friends are in tears, a feeling they have never felt before... As the story continues, Montag goes back to work, only to find that he has been called to burn down his own house. As he stands outside it, his wife comes out, gets into a cab, and drives away. The fire chief then places him under arrest and gives him a flamethrower. The job is understood. He burns his own house with utmost regret, not for the loss of his property or his life or even his "sanity", but for the loss of the knowledge and history in the books. When he finishes, the fire chief taunts Montag to the extent that he points the flamethrower at him and pulls the trigger. He was once told by a friend that there were people there like him, fugitives from a world of ignorance, condemned because they were different, because they thirsted for knowledge. These people take Montag in as one of their own as they travel away from the city, never to see it again.
Montag has finally found peace, at the price of his world. But maybe, he thinks, it was the world that was insane and not he?