Table of Contents | Downloadable/Printable Version
Throughout the book, the key Themes of conformity, apathy, stagnancy and censorship are shown in a variety of ways. Beatty and Mildred, both symbols of the totalitarian system, live vapid, meaningless lives and cannot escape. At first, Montag is also caught in the system, but his mind still longs for knowledge.
He is completely intrigued by Clarisse, a symbol of non-conformity and free thought and a total contrast to Mildred; she challenges him to look at his own life and give it more meaning. As a result, he rejects the life of conformity, apathy, stagnancy, and censorship demanded by society. In its place, he begins to think independently, seek knowledge, steal, hide, and read books, hate his job, confront his wife's indifference, and eventually kill Beatty. In truth, the entire text of Fahrenheit 451 is a discourse in theme.
The one positive message of the novel is that society can and will rejuvenate itself, no matter what state it has fallen into. Montag represents the common man who finds it in himself to seek the truth no matter what obstacles are in his way. Man is a cousin to the phoenix, as Granger says, and will rise again from the ashes. Man creates the fire that will consume him, but he also manages to be born again out of the fire, ready to begin anew.