In the book, Guy Montag, the main character, begins to question the things around him when he meets a local girl. He quickly feels comfortable with her and they begin to have discussions about mundane things that seem to open up Montags eyes. Then one day, the girl is gone. In a short few weeks, he had become dependant on the girls company. Once she is gone, he finds himself changed by having known her. When he goes to work on one of the following days, there is a fire alarm. He and the other fireman rush to answer the call, and discover an old woman in a house with books and magazines in her attic. They quickly gather the illegal materials together, and douse them in kerosene. They are trying to coax the crazy woman out of the house, when she brings out a match. Guy stays and tried to talk her out of it, but is unsuccessful. This experience haunts him all night and into the next day. He doesnt go to work the next day, and his boss, Beatty, knows why.
I think that this crazy woman is a representation of the beliefs of the Salem witch trials. People all around them were calling them devil worshipers and telling them that they were going to hell. Even though they knew it would be certain death, as did the crazy lady, they stood fast with their beliefs and died for them. She represents a courage that most common people dont have. She knew that she had to be true to herself.
Beatty comes to Guys house and tells him the truth about the origin of firemen. He tells him that people before the civil war were very simple. They had books, but it didnt really matter because there was no mass to it. Once the technological revolution came about, people stopped wanting all the excess that was included in the book. People became more interested in the snap ending, the quick pay-off. Because of this, people began to neglect teaching things like philosophy and sociology in school. No one needed it; they were all learning to be professional athletes or mechanics, or some other simple job where no book learning was required. The simple fact that the bigger the population that you have, the more minorities you get took affect. People were afraid to write because they didnt want to offend anyone. Books became nothing, not important, meaningless. There was no official ordinance, no censorship to start the firemens job of burning books, people had brought it upon themselves, and now all that was left for them to read were the comic books and three dimensional sex magazines. But that was what they wanted.
This is the point in the story where Montag realizes that he and Captain Beatty are becoming enemies, and also that he needs to find someone else to listen to and learn from. Every assignment he takes a book before he burns the rest, and one day he even keeps a bible. He remembers talking to a very knowledgeable man named Faber. He spoke with him at the park and took his address for possible future investigations.He finds the address there and goes to his house. Faber is apprehensive at first, because Montag is a fireman. The second time they meet, he realizes that Montag is sincere. Faber tells him the importance of books in society, and Montag tells him of the bible he found. Montag shows Faber the bible that he had stolen. Faber tells him that he is a very timid man, but will go and see a man with a printing press for him.
I think that Bradbury chose Beatty to tell the story because, out of all the characters in the story, he would be the one most likely to know the most about it. He is a hard-working man that does his job without regrets. He feels that he knows a lot about his job, and he does. What he doesnt understand is how much Montag had changed in the past week. He is a completely different man. He wants to have his own thoughts and ideas, as well as have a family, he knew that he had a family, but he wanted a real one that would be there with him through the good times and the bad, some people to share his life with.
This book has many allusions to important events in American history. The fire represents the potential in todays society for evil. The entire story represents the type of thinking in American history of both the Salem witch trial and the McCarthy trials in the American 20th century.
This book was written in protest to the latter. Senator McCarthy used innuendos and guilt by association to accuse members of Hollywood of being communist. Ray Bradbury was one of the people who objected to the oath that Screen Writers Guild required of its members to protect itself from communism. He got the inspiration to write the book one day as he was walking along a sidewalk and he was pulled over by a police officer. They had an argument and Ray went home to write a short-story called The Pedestrian about a society that had outlawed walking.
I feel that in todays society, people are more open to new things than they used to be. Different types of people are popping up all over the world with little or no trouble. A big part of this is the way the generation before us was brought up. They were maturing during a very difficult time and they had to make many adjustments to accommodate all the people that they did. They passed that down to us. One important thing that people have passed down to us is not to judge others by race, sex, sexual preference, or even where they are from, We are expected to come to out own conclusions about people, no one can do that for us.