Fahrenheit 451

Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Mass Media Theme Icon
Censorship Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Distraction vs. Happiness Theme Icon
Action vs. Inaction Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Fahrenheit 451, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon

Pleasure-seeking and distraction are the hallmarks of the culture in which Montag lives. Although these may sound like a very self-serving set of values, the culture is not one that celebrates or even tolerates a broad range of self-expression. Hedonism and mindless entertainment are the norm, and so long as the people in the society of Fahrenheit 451 stick to movies and sports and racing their cars, pursuits that require little individual thought, they're left alone by society.

However, whenever individuals start to question the purpose of such a life, and begin to look for answers in books or the natural world and express misgivings, they become threats. Their questions and actions might cause others to face the difficult questions that their culture is designed to distract them from. For that reason, in the society of Fahrenheit 451 people who express their individuality find themselves social outcasts at best, and at worst in real danger.

Clarisse McClellan represents free thought and individuality. She's unlike anyone else Montag knows. She has little interest in the thrill-seeking of her peers. She'd rather talk, observe the natural world firsthand, and ask questions. She soon disappears (and is probably killed). Fahrenheit 451's society is set up to snuff out individuality—characters who go against the general social conformity (Clarisse, Faber, Granger, and Montag) do so at great risk.

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Conformity vs. Individuality ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Conformity vs. Individuality appears in each chapter of Fahrenheit 451. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Conformity vs. Individuality Quotes in Fahrenheit 451

Below you will find the important quotes in Fahrenheit 451 related to the theme of Conformity vs. Individuality.
Part 1 Quotes
"Are you happy?"
Related Characters: Clarisse McClellan (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
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"You're not like the others. I've seen a few; I know. When I talk, you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night. The others would never do that."
Related Characters: Clarisse McClellan (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 21
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The Mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the firehouse.
Page Number: 21
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"I'm antisocial, they say. I don't mix. It's so strange. I'm very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn't it? Social to me means talking to you about things like this."
Related Characters: Clarisse McClellan (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 26
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The woman on the porch reached out with contempt to them all and struck the kitchen match against the railing.
Page Number: 37
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"Speed up the film, Montag, quick... Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom! Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline!... Whirl man's mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!"
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 52
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"Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don't step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that!... Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did."
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 54
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"We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon."
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 55
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"The important thing for you to remember, Montag, is we're the Happiness Boys... you and I and the others. We stand against the small tide of those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought. We have our fingers in the dike. Hold steady. Don't let the torrent of melancholy and drear philosophy drown our world."
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 59
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"At least once in his career, every fireman gets an itch. What do the books say, he wonders. Oh, to scratch that itch, eh?"
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker)
Page Number: 59
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Part 2 Quotes
"It's not books you need, it's some of the things that once were it books....The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through radios and televisors, but are not."
Related Characters: Faber (speaker)
Page Number: 78
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"We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam."
Related Characters: Faber (speaker)
Page Number: 79
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"Those who don't build must burn. It's as old as history and juvenile delinquents."
Related Characters: Faber (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 85
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He would be Montag-plus-Faber, fire plus water, and then, one day, after everything had mixed and simmered and worked away in silence, there would be neither fire nor water, but wine.
Related Characters: Guy Montag
Page Number: 99
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"They are so confident that they will run on forever. But they won't run on. They don't know that this is all one huge big blazing meteor that makes a pretty fire in space, but that someday it'll have to hit."
Related Characters: Faber (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 99
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Part 3 Quotes
"What is it about fire that's so lovely? No matter what age we are, what draws us to it?... It's perpetual motion; the thing man wanted to invent but never did. Or almost perpetual motion. If you let it go on, it'd burn our lifetimes out."
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 109
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"Now, Montag, you're a burden. And fire will lift you off my shoulders, clean, quick, sure; nothing to rot later. Antibiotic, aesthetic, practical."
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker), Guy Montag
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 109
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"We're nothing more than dust jackets for books, of no significance otherwise."
Related Characters: Granger (speaker)
Page Number: 146
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"...We're going to build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them."
Related Characters: Granger (speaker)
Page Number: 157
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