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Conformity vs. Individuality

This presentation looks to depict the theme of Conformity vs. Individuality in the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Sean Palmer

on 23 October 2012

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Transcript of Conformity vs. Individuality

by Ray Bradbury Conformity vs. “He tilted his head back in the rain, for just a few moments and opened his mouth.” “And I want you to teach me to understand what I read.” "Come on now we're going to build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them." e! Science News
This is an example of how the people of the society in Fahrenheit 451 is conform and not made up of individuals; people who think for them self and act based on their own judgment. This essentially means that most people within their society are brainwashed to act a certain way and think a certain way, this idea of them being used as tissue, to blow, wad and flush. This is a quote taken directly from the book by Clarisse’s uncle, a character in the novel. This is an example of how a rare individual in Fahrenheit 451, Clarisse is able to help conform others unlock and discover their own self. Her individuality brings the best out of people and for the first time in their society, to think for themselves and start to realize and understand their surroundings. The character who is tilting their head back in the book is the protagonist, Montag who at first was as brainwashed as the majority in the society, but thanks to Clarisse’s individuality and her actions that are considered odd in his society, his true colors begin to show and he begins to explore things out of his comfort zone. Montag tilting his head back to taste the rain is something he would have never done before if it were not for Clarisse who told him to try it because it tasted like whine. At first he thought it was absurd for her to do such a thing and recommend it, but when she was gone the urge to try the rain was too great for him to resist. This quote showcases how after Montag has begun unlocking his true self, he is willing to risk his job and in the end, his life to do what he really wants, learn to understand the message behind books. This puts his life at risk because in his society, books are considered evil and it’s kosher and standard procedure to burn books; no one is allowed to own them, and if caught with them, the books will burn along with their house and anything that chooses to be left behind in the ashes. This quote is an example of Montag’s evolution of becoming an individual because it demonstrates how he would like to learn something that is against his society’s status quo. This is a great source to relate to the society within Fahrenheit 451. Most people in this society likely would jump off a cliff if their friend did or if the government told them to. Essentially, this idea of jumping off a cliff can be related to the conform society of Fahrenheit 451. By the people not challenging ideas or thinking and acting based on their own judgments, they are all following each other off the cliff without even realizing. This image is also a source that can be related to the government and the firemen of Fahrenheit 451 because it is exactly what they are afraid of by allowing people to read books. They are afraid that by allowing people to read books, they will be allowing the people to gain more knowledge that would cause them to begin thinking for themselves and eventually lead to further conflict in the society, which, the government and firemen want to avoid. Without being as obvious with the effects of reading books, the government and firemen within Fahrenheit 451 would approve of this source, as it labels this idea of individuality as being dangerous. In the article "When following the leader can lead into the jaws of death" by e! Science News, it states that by blindly following a leader, it can place one in danger. This article relates to Fahrenheit 451 because the theme of conformity vs. individuality is a main theme always present in the book. The society and the way it's expected to function in Fahrenheit 451 is conform to one principle; everyone does what everyone else does (this idea of following a leader presented in the article), no one really thinks for themselves and anyone who does things out of the ordinary is considered an outcast or anti-social (Clarisse). This relates to the article because everyone is blindly following each other and are metaphorically being lead into the jaws of death; there is no progress in society, no true happiness and the gaps in people's lives are filled by distractions. Being unique is being happy and accepting who we are and want to be. It is our right and the right of all people. It is conformity that is sad. “Blow your nose on a person, wad them, flush them away, reach for another, blow, wad, flush. Everyone using ever else’s coattails.” Individuality Fahrenheit 451 Text to Self When Captain Beatty compares Montag to a sheep that has strayed, he is essentially saying that Montag is becoming an individual who no longer seems to function under the manner, which his society requires. Montag is no longer kept in shackles with his society's conform ways thinaks to the help of Clarisse in the beginning of Fahrenheit 451. Montag is beginning to understand the importance of books, leading to him planning a way to sabotage fire men and the fire houses. Many time I feel that I am a stray sheep in a sense because I do things most others I know don't do. For example, play a basketball game after school then show up to a two hour volleyball practice, then do an extra hour of cardio or plyometrics on an off day. I motivate myself everyday to push past exhaustion and achieve greatness everyday whether it's in the classroom, at home or in the gym. This final example from the book demonstrates how the theme of individuality evolved the most from the start of the novel. At first, Clarisse and her family (primarily her uncle) seemed like the only true individuals in the society. Eventually, Montag began to understand himself and act based on his own belief, judgements and will. Finally by this point, it becomes clear that the society is not running extinct with individuals, but after the city is now ruins, the surviving individuals can rebuild a better society. A better society would be one where books and their content is appreciated, there is a presence of mind and most importantly, the freedom to have an opinion and think. This quote represents that because Granger is saying that they will essentially just sit and attempt to remember all the content within the books they've read to rebuild and rewrite everything. This is possible because of their attempts to memorize books to preserve them for the future. This final image is the one that best represents the evolution of this theme by the end of the book. Montag is an example of this as he is now part of the group of people who seek to rebuild society the right way. At this point if Montag were to be placed in a group of people from his society, he would stand out like the 8-ball in the above image because of his train of thought and belief. Montag being part of this group to rebuild society means to allow freedoms that all humans deserve including that of reading books and having ideas and opinions based on them.
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