Be an Individual

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation (Herman Melville)”. This quote is emphasizing that even if someone is not winning, they are better off losing as an individual knowing that he/she was being a leader, not a follower. In Bradbury’s, Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag is trying to escape conformity and lead his own life whether or not it is perfect.

Montag is constantly progressing towards being an individual and is maintaining his stance. The change in Montag starts early on, in a slow and subtle way. He begins to try new things. As Montag stood in the rain moving “only after a long time”, he thought about Clarisse’s words and “very slowly tilted his head back and opened his mouth” (24). He tasted the rain: a very different action in society. Montag’s mindset is changing because no conformed citizen would ever think about tasting rain, but Montag did it out of curiosity, which is a foreign concept.

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He soon starts thinking about other aspects as well. Montag uses the phrase “once upon a time” and he starts asking questions regarding “the old days” and “firemen prevent[ing] fires” (34). His thoughts about the past and wondering questions are very unusual in the civilization. It shows that Montag, with his “odd” acting and thinking, is becoming unlike the rest of society. The small changes in Montag are sparking his journey to individuality. Although there are obstacles, Montag overcomes them to continue his transformation.

He bravely defeats his enemy despite the trouble it will cause. As Beatty teases Montag, Montag “[shoots] one continuous pulse of liquid fire to kill Beatty “like a charred wax doll” (119). Montag finally realizes that he can use fire to burn for a better reason. He does not want to kill his best friend, but he has to in order to gain his individuality. His battle provides him with more courage for his escape. While on the run, Montag “could feel the Hound, like a wind that didn’t stir grass” and he “felt the pressure rising”, but still, “he ran” for his life (137).

Montag knows the Hound is on his trail so he is being aware of his surroundings. It could catch him any second, but he runs on risking his life for a chance to be free. The encounters show Montag’s dedication towards his change. Montag keeps a stable stance with his originality as he looks toward the future. He considers how to fix the society. On his escape, Montag notices that “the sun burn[s] time” and “the firemen burn things”, so to stop everything from burning, he had to begin “saving and putting away” (141).

He does not want everything to just burn away, so he is thinking about who can stop it. Montag shows he has a solid individuality because he is moving on from changing himself to changing the humanity. He is also remembering books and information. Guy remembers Revelation, using the leaves of the tree of life for “the healing of the nations”; he decides to share his thought when he and the men “reach the city” (165). He saves the thought for later, because he can apply it to the city by trying to rebuild and improve it. Montag is not just remembering the story, but is trying to apply it to reality, taking the next step towards freedom.

With his actions, Montag is able to focus on the future, proving that he has solidified his own individualism. Trying to become his own person, Guy Montag continually ascends into a stable individual. Despite hindrances and the likelihood of failure, he maintained originality rather than imitation like Melville once quoted. Any person can achieve individuality if they are willing to accept failure and will not give up.