Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury
Contributed by Ariane Heyne
Section 10

From after the fake Montag’s death through the end of the novel

After he sees the death of the anonymous scapegoat on television, Granger remarks ironically to Granger, “Welcome back to life.” He introduces Montag and the other men. The other men are all intellectuals and former professors. He informs Montag that they have found the perfect method of remembering word-for-word absolutely everything that they have read only once. Each of these people has a different classic in his memory. Granger says that they belong to a network that is made of thousands of people across the country who all store bits of different books within their memories. Granger declares that Montag is significant because he represents a “back-up copy” of the Book of Ecclesiastes. Montag finally experiences having his reading validated by another person.

Granger asserts that his group awaits humanity becoming ready again for books so that they can improve the world. He states that the most important element they need to keep in mind is that each of them has no importance in himself. Their significance only exists in the fact that they are knowledge repositories. Granger declares that they are ready to wait as long as they need to, and that they will make sure their books are passed down through future generations if that is necessary. He accepts it is possible that one day the world will go through another Dark Age and that they will need to experience all of this again. However, he feels entirely confident in the determination of man to save that which is worth saving. They extinguish the fire and then make their way downstream in the dark.

Montag examines the faces of the other men to find a special look of resolve or hint of hidden knowledge, but he ends up disappointed. The other men see this and laugh. They say he shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Montag informs them that his wife is in the city. He is concerned that there must be something wrong with him as a person, as he finds he doesn’t miss her and wouldn’t be sad if she died. Granger tells him about his grandfather’s death. He emphasizes that his grandfather, who was a sculptor, was a person who “did things to the world.” Granger thinks that when individuals are able to change even a tiny aspect of the world thoughtfully, people are able to mourn them properly when they die. This is because they successfully leave behind a part of their souls.

Jets are suddenly seen flying over the city and dropping bombs. The explosion destroys the city. The shock wave knocks over the men, and Montag holds on for his life. As he does so, he imagines Mildred the moment before he is to lose her life. The fact that he met her in Chicago suddenly comes into his mind. After that, Montag ponders the Book of Ecclesiastes, repeating it to himself. The men get up and eat some breakfast once the aftershock dies down. Granger makes a comparison between mankind and a phoenix that rises repeatedly from its ashes. He makes the comment that they will first have to erect a mirror factory so that they can have the benefit of a long look at themselves. The men begin to travel upriver. They want to help survivors in the city rebuild.


The ironic way in which Granger welcomes Montag back from the dead is symbolic of the rebirth of Montag into a life that is more meaningful. Bradbury uses the image of a butterfly all through the book, specifically in his description of the “death” that occurs when books are burned, so the concept of transformation or metamorphosis has been foreshadowed. The men’s ability to recover every word of the books they have read renders them living links to the dead and the past. They are playful when they identify themselves to Montag by using the names of authors who died long ago. These men have multiple lives and chances for rebirth by virtue of the vestiges of the past found in books. Within his new life, Montag possesses the three elements that Faber said were needed for a full life: time to think; exposure to the world of books and exposure to nature; and the freedom to act on the ideas they gain.

When the enemy bombers come into Montag’s sight, he begins to think about the people who are now lost to him: Mildred, Clarisse, and Faber. When the city is destroyed by the bombs, he suddenly recalls that he and Mildred met in Chicago, hinting that he has in some way managed to feel a connection that wasn’t there when she was still alive. The story Graner tells about his grandfather, which makes its moral focus the need to leave one’s mark on the world, links to Montag’s wish to leave a legacy that means something. When Montag looks back at his city, he realizes that the only thing he gave it was ashes.  

Granger indicates that mankind is like the mythological creature of the phoenix that is destroyed by fire but then rises from its ashes in a cycle that will repeat for eternity. He makes the suggestion that the advantage man has over the phoenix is the ability to know when he has taken the wrong path, so that eventually he will learn his lesson and not do it again. Remembering mistakes made in the past is something that Granger and his group want to accomplish. Their belief is that the collective memory found in books is a vital ingredient in the survival of mankind. They see that this shared culture has more importance than any one individual person.

Granger remarks at the end of the novel that they ought to establish a mirror factory so that mankind will be able to look at and examine itself. This brings to mind the way Montag describes Clarisse as a mirror in the first part of “The Heart and the Salamander.” Mirrors are a symbol of self-knowledge and understanding oneself. They can also create and multiply images, as reading books and committing them to memory multiplies the lives and identities of Granger and his group.

As they make their way up the river to look for survivors, Montag is aware that they will eventually talk, and he attempts to remember Bible passages that are fitting for the occasion. He calls to mind Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season,” as well as Revelations 22:2, “And on either side of the river was there a tree of life…and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations,” which he opts to save for the point at which they get to the city. The passage from Revelations makes reference to the city of God, and the line “When we reach the city” shows a strong symbolic link between the Apocalypse of the Bible and the atomic holocaust experienced by Montag’s world.

Have study documents to share about Fahrenheit 451? Upload them to earn free Studypool credits!