Civil Disobedence Essay

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"And the Leaves of the Tree Were for the Healing of the Nations": Literature and Civil Disobedience in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 Senior Paper Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For a Degree Bachelor of Arts with A Major in Literature at The University of North Carolina at Asheville Fall 2008 By Alina Gerall Thesis Director Dr. Deborah James Thesis Advisor Dr. Blake Hobby Gerall 2 Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is a blatant criticism of suppressed creative thought. The novel follows Guy Moritag, a firefighter who, rather than putting out fires as we expect, is partially responsible for setting fire to the houses of people who harbor and read books. Montag meets a young girl, Clarisse McClellan, who encourages him to question his perceived happiness and role in his society while searching for ways to add meaning to her own life. Montag continues his self-questioning and, while at the house of books set to be burned, accidentally reads a line from one of the books. After watching the owner of the house martyr herself, Montag begins hoarding books and attempting to memorize them but is frustrated that he cannot hold onto the words. Captain Beatty, the fire chief, warns Montag of the insidious nature of book reading; to Beatty, possessing a book is dangerous but reading a book is akin to asking the authority for death. Consumed by his fascination with books and his growing frustration at the materialistic and subservient culture in which he lives, Montag reads a poem to his wife's friends in the hopes of forcing them to see the power of the written word. Instead, they leave the house horrified and Mildred, Montag7s wife, turns him in to the authorities for his book reading. After fleeing into the countryside, Montag discovers a group of intellectuals led by a man named Granger, who preserve books by memorizing them. In the final

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