Write one page about a book that opened new doors for you. If a book had a profound impact, explain why. If the book was pleasurable, explain in detail what kind of pleasure was experienced.
How does technology within the novel compare to our current technology? Does technology improve the quality of life for Montag and his wife, Mildred? Why or why not?
Write a short character summary about the four main characters we have met so far: Calrisse, Montage, Mildred, and Cpt. Beatty
Write an original poem, 6-25 lines long, using symbolism, metaphor/simile, imagery.
Write a plot outline of the novel including all key points of the novel (exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution) as well as the characters key turning point (not the same as inciting incident or climax). Next, write a paragraph reflection about the novel.
Notes Day 1 Examining an author’s life can inform and expand the reader’s understanding of a novel. Biographical criticism is the practice of analyzing a literary work through the lens of an author’s experience. In this lesson, we explored the author’s life to understand the novel more fully. Fahrenheit 451 is, in some ways, the author’s tribute to the role that books and libraries have played in his life. After all, Bradbury wrote hundreds of works (novels, stories, screenplays, essays, and poems) with only a high school education, an inspiring desire to learn, and a worn out library card.
Journal: Write one page about a book that opened new doors for you. If a book had a profound impact, explain why. If the book was pleasurable, explain in detail what kind of pleasure was experienced. Have students present their books, ideas, and conclusions to the class.
We listened to The Big Read Audio Guide, Track One (to 16:30). Students took notes as they listened and "earned their seats" by presenting one interesting thing they learned about Bradbury from the Audio Guide.
Began Reading Fahrenheit 451: read pages 1 - 31
Day 2 Cultural and historical contexts give birth to the dilemmas and themes at the center of the novel. Studying these contexts and appreciating intricate details of the time and place help readers understand the motivations of the characters.
Fahrenheit 451 was published in 1953, the year the Korean War ended. The memory of Hitler’s atrocities and World War II was less than a decade old. The Cold War, meanwhile, had hardened into a standoff. In 1952 the United States tested a hydrogen bomb, and the Soviet Union followed suit a year later. A year after the publication of Fahrenheit 451, the Voice of America began broadcasting jazz worldwide. In New York, saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie inspired audiences with their dynamic virtuosity. In 1956, the U.S. State Department sent Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong on tour in the hope that their performances would spread American democracy and alleviate the tensions of the Cold War.
Journal: Montag’s television includes headphones called seashells. The “wall to wall circuit” allows Mildred to enter the “play” and, therefore, the television programming. How does the technology within the novel compare to our current technology? Does technology improve the quality of life for Montag and his wife, Mildred? Why or why not?
Listen to The Big Read Audio Guide, Track Two. Took notes. (4th period got to 24:50)
Day 3 The narrator tells the story with a specific perspective informed by his or her beliefs and experiences. Narrators can be major or minor characters, or exist outside the story altogether. The narrator weaves her or his point of view, including ignorance and bias, into telling the tale. A first-person narrator participates in the events of the novel, using “I.” A distanced narrator, often not a character, is removed from the action of the story and uses the third person (he, she, and they). The distanced narrator may be omniscient, able to read the minds of all the characters, or limited, describing only certain characters’ thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, the type of narrator determines the point of view from which the story is told. Bradbury employs a third-person limited narrator in Fahrenheit 451. We know only Montag’s movements and thoughts. The narration follows Montag like a camera, and the reader is never allowed into the lives of other characters, except for what they say to him. This inevitably increases our sympathy for Montag.
The central character in a work of literature is called the protagonist. The protagonist usually initiates the main action of the story and often overcomes a flaw, such as weakness or ignorance, to achieve a new understanding by the work’s end. A protagonist who acts with great honor or courage may be called a hero. An antihero is a protagonist lacking these qualities. Instead of being dignified, brave, idealistic, or purposeful, the antihero may be cowardly, self-interested, or weak. The protagonist’s journey is enriched by encounters with characters who hold differing beliefs. One such character type, a foil, has traits that contrast with the protagonist’s and highlight important features of the main character’s personality. The most important foil, the antagonist, opposes the protagonist, barring or complicating his or her success.
Captain Beatty, the fire chief, is a key foil and a historian of sorts. While Montag once followed Beatty’s values, he now resists Beatty’s commitment to burning books. Meanwhile, Faber represents a musty, academic link to the past. Clarisse McClellan, a teenager, longs for the romantic days of front porches and rocking chairs, complaining, “we never ask questions.” Mildred, the model citizen, attempts suicide while living in a world enchanted by television.
Journal: Write a character summary about each of the four main characters we have met so far and explain their motives: Clarisse, Mildred, Montage, Cpt. Beatty
Discussion: Reread Captain Beatty’s monologue (pp. 57–59). Discuss his view that school cultivates anti-intellectual sentiment (p. 58). Do students think it accurately depicts their school? Do books violate the idea that “everyone is made equal” (p. 58)?
Read: Part 2: The Sieve and the Sand
Day 4 Writers use figurative language such as imagery, similes, and metaphors to help the reader visualize and experience events and emotions in a story. Imagery—a word or phrase that refers to sensory experience (sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste)—helps create a physical experience for the reader and adds immediacy to literary language.
Some figurative language asks us to stretch our imaginations, finding the likeness in seemingly unrelated things. Simile is a comparison of two things that initially seem quite different but are shown to have significant resemblance. Similes employ connective words, usually “like,” “as,” “than,” or a verb such as “resembles.” A metaphor is a statement that one thing is something else that, in a literal sense, it is not. By asserting that a thing is something else, a metaphor creates a close association that underscores an important similarity between these two things.
Symbols are persons, places, or things in a narrative that have significance beyond a literal understanding. The craft of storytelling depends on symbols to present ideas and point toward new meanings. Most frequently, a specific object will be used to refer to (or symbolize) a more abstract concept. The repeated appearance of an object suggests a non-literal, or figurative, meaning attached to the object. Symbols are often found in the book’s title, at the beginning and end of the story, within a profound action, or in the name or personality of a character. The life of a novel is perpetuated by generations of readers interpreting and reinterpreting the main symbols. By identifying and understanding symbols, readers can reveal new interpretations of the novel.
Bradbury repeats and expands certain images. Front porches and rocking chairs symbolize the past, a time when people intermingled without the distraction of electronic screens. The Mechanical Hound, an especially important symbol, represents Montag’s modern world and the deadly possibilities around every corner.
Journal: Write an original poem, 6-25 lines long, using vivid imagery, metaphor/simile, and symbol
Discuss the symbolic meaning of "hearth," "salamander," "the sieve and the sand" and how this deepens the readers interpretations of the text.
Read - Finish Novel
Day 5 Novels trace the development of characters who encounter a series of challenges. Most characters contain a complex balance of virtues and vices. Internal and external forces require characters to question themselves, overcome fears, or reconsider dreams. The protagonist may undergo profound change. A close study of character development maps, in each character, the evolution of motivation, personality, and belief. The tension between a character’s strengths and weaknesses keeps the reader guessing about what might happen next and the protagonist’s eventual success or failure.
Montag questions whether his profession is justified and whether the values he has held so dear—burning books and all it implies—are wrong. Mrs. Hudson forces Montag to question whether his life might be fundamentally improved by reading. Is he missing something invaluable? He then repudiates his profession. He does so partly through the intercession of Clarisse and Faber, messengers from a world he barely understands. The narrator explains, “Even now he could feel the start of the long journey, the leave-taking, the going-away from the self he had been” (p. 103). By the end of the novel, Montag has been profoundly changed. As a threedimensional character, Montag has an inner and an outer life unlike the two-dimensional portraits of other characters.
Discussion Activities: In Part Three, Beatty explains “Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that he’s burnt his damn wings, he wonders why. Didn’t I hint enough when I sent the Hound around your place?” (p. 113). Beatty refers to the myth of Icarus, told in Ovid’s first-century poem The Metamorphoses. A version can be found at http://ovid.lib.virginia.edu/trans/Metamorph8.htm#482327661 Why Bradbury compares Montag to Icarus. How does this shed light on Montag’s development?
Journal: Write a plot outline of the novel including the characters turning point. (exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution.) Now that we have finished the novel, write a one page reflection of the novel. What did you like, not like, learn, think, feel?
Quiz on Part 2 and Part 3
Review Notes, journals, and dystopian film project