To faster it sifted through with a hot

To begin, the author uses symbols as a means of criticizing the
misuse of new technologies and its portrayal of propaganda to scare American
citizens in the 1950s. Bradbury does this to demonstrate his contempt for what
McCarthy was trying to force people to believe in. These actions can be seen in
part two of the book as Montag frantically reads a forbidden Holy Bible in an
attempt to understand its meaning. While reading on the subway, Montag remembers
that “As a child he had sat upon a yellow dune by the sea … trying to fill a
sieve with sand … The faster he poured, the faster it sifted through with a hot
whispering. His hands were tired, the sand was boiling, the sieve was empty”
(Bradbury 74). During this scene, Montag compares the reading of the bible to a
similar memory of the past. The sand is representative of the knowledge he
seeks but like a sieve, falls out of his mind. The more Montag tries to cram
his mind with books, the more he fails to understand. Montag is trying to grasp
a sliver of information which has not been corrupted but is hindered by the
fake realities of society as is projected by the technology around him. With
the telescreens located in everyone’s houses, he feels alienated by those who
have been compelled by the media. Only by living with his wife that his
discontent with society grows. Similarly, Bradbury makes use of this symbol to
demonstrate the power of media and technology over the masses. Just like the
novel, media propaganda played over American television sets invoked panic
among millions of families all over the country (Roberts). Simply by
manipulating technology, the government can exploit the minds of millions
similar to what Joseph McCarthy had done. In addition, Bradbury uses the
Mechanical Hound as a symbol to represent the changes technology has brought. In
the novel, the Mechanical Hound is a firehouse dog that belongs to every fire
station. The narrator describes the mechanical hound as a monster that “slept
but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently
vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in the dark corner of the firehouse …
It doesn’t like or dislike. It just functions” (Bradbury 21-22). To the
readers, Bradbury manipulates the typical view of a firehouse dog and contrasts
it to represent technologies impact on people. In this instance, the hound
has been constructed to represent the government’s control and manipulation of
technology. Originally, firehouse dogs were used as rescuers by sniffing
out the weak or injured for aid. However, the hound has been made into a
watchdog and an enforcer whose duty if to avenge and punish citizens who break
society’s rules. In the past, firehouse dogs who were usually known to save and
help people have now been engineered to kill. With the introduction of a
highly intelligent yet heartless robotic dog, technology has advanced towards a
point where it can be manipulated to instill fear and destruction. Alternatively,
Bradbury argues that with only a few changes, advancements in technology can be
turned from helpful tools into ones that can cause terror. In the past,
televisions were developed to provide entertainment but because many viewers
considered the television as the purveyors of truth, the government was able to
capitalize on this belief for their unethical messages (Roberts). Moreover, the
Mechanical Hound is a clear demonstration of the insidious and threatening
impacts brought on by advancements in technology. The Hound is an invention
that first terrorizes, then spies on and finally hunts Montag intent on his
extermination. By its very nature, the Hound is devoid of any human compassion
and reason even though it is programmed by humans. The Hound presents an
example of advancing technology gone wrong. Like society, the Hound is
programmed like many of the citizens and hunts and kills for the entertainment
of the masses (Roberts). In particular, it is misused by the unsympathetic
nature of the government. Just like McCarthy, television was used for ulterior
motives other than just for entertainment. All in all, the writer makes his
stance on McCarthy’s actions very evident with the use of different symbols to
make the reader realize what negative changes technology can and will bring.

Ray Bradbury uses symbols as a means of criticizing the ease for technology to be
manipulated by the government similar to McCarthy’s use of media.

Secondly, Bradbury’s use
of conflicts experienced by Montag demonstrates the power that new advanced
technologies can provide. The author does this to expose the dilemma faced by
millions of Americans as they were peer-pressured into the fear during
McCarthy’s campaign. Montag experiences an inner conflict against himself while
on a run against the police when he “reminded himself again that this was no
fictional episode to be watched on his run to the river; it was in actuality
his own chess game he was witnessing, move by move” (Bradbury 131). To clarify,
the chess game demonstrates how Montag’s own perceived identity has changed.

Montag is no longer compelled to listen to society but rather follow his own
path towards knowledge. Essentially, he has changed from someone who was a book
burner into a book learner as he experiences a role reversal caused by his
inner turmoil. His character change involved the idea that he no longer has to
accept reality as it is presented and understand his own life’s meaning. Montag
is forced to face the world he lives in as it truly exists – not as it is
presented in the telescreens. Likewise, the conflict experienced by Montag
reflects how many American families felt about the communist witch-hunt. Like
Montag, people felt conflicted between what they were being told and what they
believed in. On a personal level, alleged communist sympathizers were alienated
from both friends and family and even fired from their jobs (“Red
Scare: McCarthy”). McCarthy’s propaganda campaign was aimed at all members of American
households with subliminal messages in childhood cartoons (“Cold War Propaganda”).

Thus, it caused Americans to struggle to depict the truth behind McCarthy’s
claims just like Montag’s search for knowledge. Furthermore, Montag experiences
a conflict between himself and societal norms when he ponders that, “There must
be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a
burning house; there must be something here. You don’t stay for nothing”
(Bradbury 48). Notably, after Montag’s traumatic experience which involved the
burning of a woman before his eyes, he starts to try and make sense of the
reasoning behind why she chose to die. Compared to others in Montag’s
society, the old lady believes that her life has something worth making a stand
for. With her sacrifice, she hopes to shine a light on the intellectual freedom
that books leave behind. At this point, Montag becomes dissatisfied with
his life as he realizes that his life has no real meaning or purpose behind it
in society. Nonetheless, this is similar to the American citizens and media
outlets who argued against how McCarthy tried to scare citizens even though
they could have been prosecuted. The overwhelming amount of propaganda and
deliberate manipulation of television caused many left-wing activists to rebel
against McCarthy’s Red Scare campaign even if it meant being charged and exiled
from their home country. Even actors, writers, and producers who voiced against
what McCarthy was doing were blacklisted from their jobs in the entertainment
industry (“McCarthyism”). Additionally, in the protagonist’s person versus
society conflict, Montag gradually learns how the government manipulates the
masses with the help of media, shows of force, and legal measures. Montag’s
lesson comes from his eyewitness account of watching a woman destroy herself in
defense of her books. This incident Sparks something in Montag to realize his
position as a fireman in the world he lives in. With her death, it made Montag
ashamed of himself and those around him for embracing the illusion of life
rather than examine what underlines it (Zipes 7-8). Bradbury makes use of
conflict to denote what the victims of McCarthy’s regime had to deal with on a
daily basis. The purpose behind his criticism is a display of how oppression
can make lives miserable for those not only directly impacted but the
communities around them. In terms of Montag, he becomes remorseful in what he
has done with his life. Overall, Ray Bradbury expresses the issues involving
new technologies with the use of conflicts to depict what Americans had to deal
with. The author utilizes the conflicts experienced by the protagonist to
criticize the impacts McCarthyism had on both family and social life.


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