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ESL 52: Reading III - Fahrenheit 451 (Carlson - AL): Assignment Info

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Prof. Carlson's Assignment

Professor Aaron Carlson

ESL 52-304

Final Project for Fahrenheit 451

Panel Presentation

You will be working in groups of four. The moderator will be the manager for the group. This person will introduce your panel, take care of the PowerPoint, close the panel and regulate the questions from the audience. Your group should come up with and overall thesis that you will use for the presentation. One person could take the perspective of the novel, another could do a specific country study, and the third could give us a global perspective. Remember that these could all fall under the theme you have chosen for the group.

Example Thesis Statements

In Fahrenheit 451, censorship causes a loss of societal growth and individual thought and personal happiness.

In Fahrenheit 451, the society loses its power and purpose because individuals lose their ability to live a full life involving relationships, meaningful activities, and riches.


Presenter 1

Presenter 2

Presenter 3




Introduce the topic and panel member

















Final points on the entire presentation


Panel is now open for questions



Topics to be covered in your presentations (choose from):

Literature and Writing: Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. At the end of the novel, Granger tells Montag that they all need to remember not to feel superior; that it is the books, not the people who read them, which are important. Earlier in the novel, Faber claimed that books themselves didn’t matter, only the way that life was reflected in them. Are these contradictory or complementary statements?
  2. If books and TV both have the capacity to convey information at a mass scale, then why are books so superior to television in this novel?
  3. Why does Mrs. Bowles start crying when Montag reads Dover Beach? Why does Montag choose to read poetry and not prose? And why that particular poem? What is Dover Beach about, anyway?
  4. What do you make of those lines about the eggs from Gulliver’s Travels? What does that have to do with anything that’s going on in Fahrenheit 451?

Technology and Modernization: Questions About Technology and Modernization

  1. Faber says that books can be beaten down with reason, but that TV overwhelms the senses and can not. Is he right? Does TV really deserve so much credit here?
  2. In the digitized, mechanical world of Fahrenheit 451, what makes something real? What’s more "real" – books or TV? Are either really substantive?
  3. What does Mildred mean when she calls the TV her "family"?

Rules and Order: Questions About Rules and Order

  1. Given the way that the book people fight the law, are they "rebels"? Is it enough to fight on a small scale, without concern for the state of others?
  2. Would Montag have started down his rebellious path of self-doubt, guilt, and illegalities if it hadn’t been for Clarisse? What did she do for him, exactly? Wasn’t he already "different," before she came along?
  3. What is it about Clarisse that allows her to be different? How did she escape the system of homogeneity?

Violence: Questions About Violence

  1. What types of violence do we find in Fahrenheit 451? Which is the most destructive?
  2. What is it about this world that renders everyone completely fascinated by violence?
  3. If life really is cyclic, as Montag believes at the end (a time for living, a time for dying, etc.), then isn’t destruction necessary? Does this justify the violence we see earlier in the novel? After all, if people were just writing books and no one was burning them, wouldn’t that throw off the scale, at least according to Montag’s final mantra?
  4. Did you notice that fire is repeatedly described as "beautiful" in Fahrenheit? What’s up with that?

Identity: Questions About Identity

  1. How is identity crafted in Fahrenheit 451? Does the answer to this question change as the novel progresses? How does Montag come to understand it?
  2. When Montag recalls Mildred’s suicide attempt, he claims that that was a different Mildred, one completely remote from the woman he knows on a daily basis. Is this a legitimate way to understand his wife’s unhappiness? Or does he misconstrue the scenario?
  3. Montag often splits his identity – he hears Clarisse talking through him, or he’s got Faber in his ear, or he imagines his hands acting of their own accord – but which is the "real" Montag?
  4. Montag speaks of becoming a new person, a "Guy-plus-Faber." Does this mean he’s not thinking for himself, as he originally desired?

Dissatisfaction: Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. Are characters like Mildred are her girlfriends content? Are they happy? What’s the difference?
  2. Montag yells at Mildred for having never been really bothered by anything. Is that a bad thing? Why or why not?
  3. After Montag talks with Clarisse, he claims that his mask of happiness has been lifted. Does this mean he was never really happy in the first place, or that Clarisse took his happiness away?

Man and the Natural World: Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. We argue that Fahrenheit 451 establishes a dichotomy between technology/control/ignorance and nature/rebellion/wisdom. What is it about trees and rivers that’s so conducive to learning?
  2. Is fire an element of nature or a weapon of man in this novel? Can it be both? Doesn’t that mess up the dichotomy we were just talking about?
  3. What does the Mechanical Hound have to do with this question of nature vs. technology?