Silence As A Motif In The Novel Fahrenheit 451

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In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the motif of silence is used to symbolize society as lacking essential factors to be an accomplishment. In the novel, for example, Montag‘s wife, Mildred, overdosed on sleeping pills. Montag called the emergency hospital, and they brought a machine to pump out Mildred’s stomach. When the machine was being described, “Does it drink of the darkness? ... It fed in silence with an occasional sound of inner suffocation and blind searching” (Bradbury 12).

While it appears that only the machine is facing darkness, suffocation, and blind searching, it is truly symbolizing the society. The darkness represents a dead period in society, silent in that nothing is coming from it, empty and without value. The society is searching blindly for a way to be successful, but are failing at their attempt by burning books. To begin, the motif of silence is originally dead and suffocating, without any noticeable hope. It is evident that much needed to be accomplished in order to get the society back to a neutral point with all of its needs met.

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Additionally, in an idea within the text, Montag asks questions about the existence of books while on the phone with Faber, which were to be burned if found. When Montag attempted to call Faber, “Montag identified himself and was met with a lengthy silence” (Bradbury 71). Montag was faced with silence, which is a motif used in the novel repeatedly. Not only is Montag met with silence on the telephone, but views society as silent as well, without individuality and controlled completely, and the absence of a complete society. The motif of silence evolved into being lesser, because it was not an everlasting silence, only lengthy, with more hope than that was present earlier.

In order to have a fully functioning society, silence must not exist at all. In another instance, Montag listened to the conversation of his wife, Mildred, and two other women, who were talking about their husbands and kids. But, looking at them caused Montag to have flashbacks from when he was a child. After Montag recalled memories while listening to the women, “Lighting cigarettes, blowing smoke, touching their sun-fired hair and examining their blazing fingernails as if they had caught fire from his look. Their faces grew haunted with silence” (Bradbury 92). In this example, fire is repeated multiple times, relating to the fires in which books were being burned. In this quote, once fire was caught, silence became the reality. Symbolically, the society became dead once books began to be burned. Because of the lack of books, society is lacking and cannot function properly.

Finally, the motif of silence has evolved because there is much more hope. The root cause of the silent society is now evident, the cause being the burning of books, which appear to be very important. In the novel Fahrenheit 451, a main idea portrayed is that in order to have an acceptable society, there must not be crucial aspects which are absent.

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Silence As A Motif In The Novel Fahrenheit 451. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 19, 2024, from
“Silence As A Motif In The Novel Fahrenheit 451.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
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