Fahrenheit 451 Essays—Gathering Data and Preparing for a Thesis Literary Essay 1. Essay about Montag’s development Your job is to analyze how Bradbury represents the changes that occur in Montag (Don’t merely describe or summarize the changes) Analyze how Bradbury uses 3 of the following to symbolize Montag’s development: His attitudes toward fire His contact with water Women His mentors His books His clothes His eyes His hands His relationship to machines His relationship to nature 2. Essay about a minor character Trace all the scenes in which your character appears or is discussed by another character. Analyze what this character contributes to the book’s purpose and meaning. Does the author use this character as a symbol? Find the meaning of the name. Find descriptions of the character’s appearance and clothing. Find imagery that relates to this character--eyes, hands, colors, settings, objects. Does the author use this character as a character foil? (A character foil is a character whose traits are in direct contrast to those of the principal character. The foil therefore highlights the traits of the protagonist. The foil is usually a minor character, although if there are two protagonists, they may be foils of each other.) Draw parallels between this character and Montag. Figure out what traits of Montag this minor character highlights. Does the author use this character as a stereotype? (A stereotype is a character who possesses expected traits of a group rather than being an individual.) What does this character reveal about the “group” that he or she represents? What is Bradbury’s attitude toward this group? How is Bradbury using this character as a warning? 3. Essay about a motif Analyze the symbolism of a recurring image. Select one object or image that recurs. Make a list of quotes that include this image. Find quotes in each part of the novel Notice how the image develops and changes throughout the book Find the denotation of the word you are tracing Create a web of the word’s connotations and associations. 4. Essay about allusions Analyze what the allusions contribute to the book. Make a list of the allusions to… The Bible Mythology Poetry Philosophy History You will need to be able to identify the allusion, its source, and its meaning; for that you need to draw on research in sources outside the text. You will also have to look at its context in the novel, speculating on how Bradbury uses the allusion and to what effect. And finally, you will make a point about how this particular allusion connects with other similar ones in the text, and with Bradbury’s larger themes. Select three of the most significant allusions to give a close reading. For each allusion, do the following: Identify the allusion, its source, and its meaning; for that you need to draw on research in sources outside the text. Look at its context in the novel, speculating on how Bradbury uses the allusion and to what effect. And finally, make a point about how this particular allusion connects with other similar ones in the text, and with Bradbury’s larger themes. . Historical Essay Decide the historic topic you will research, trace, and analyze. For example, if you choose family life for your topic, research what teenagers were doing in the 1950’s and how they behaved. Read about their music, their schooling, their cliques, their fads, their rebelliousness, their cars, etc. Then, find all references to teenagers that appear in Fahrenheit 451. Look at what Clarisse said about her friends in Part I, look at what Mrs. Bowles said about her children in Part II, look at what a carload of kids almost did to Montag in Part III. Then, make connections between the history and the novel. Decide what Bradbury’s attitude was toward teenagers. What did he admire or fear about them? What warnings was he making? Then, do the same for a second and third aspect of family life. Personal Response Essay Choose a character, a theme, an occurrence, an image, or a scene and write a personal essay developing your response to your choice. Make a point by point comparison and/or contrast between the work and yourself. The best way to do reader response is to ask yourself three questions: 1. What about this story, poem or play stands out in my mind? 2. What in my background, values, needs and interests makes me react that way? 3. What specific passages in the work trigger that reaction? Here are some more detailed questions you can ask yourself as you create an interpretation that works for you: Read the text and record what happens as you read -- what do you remember, feel, question, see? Afterwards, think back over the book. What is your own sense of the text . . . does it recall memories; does it affirm or contradict any of your own attitudes or perceptions? What did you see happening in the text? . . . What image was called to mind by the text? Describe it briefly. Upon what did you focus most intently as you read -- what word, phrase, image, idea? What is the most important word in the text? Does this text call to mind any other literary work (poem, play, film, story -- any genre)? If it does, what is the connection between the two? How do the circumstances – your neighborhood, your country, your generation, personal events in your life -- help shape the reading? Think it through, and craft a thesis statement giving your overall response to the work. Then support your thesis by quoting and analyzing the passages you identified.