The Fireman

“The Fireman”


415.1 The four men sat silently playing blackjack] Montag’s nightmare, which opens both the original “Long After Midnight” typescript and the revised opening fragment, disappears from the beginning of “The Fireman.” The published text opens in the firehouse, with Montag thinking about his most recent book burning.

415.20 Leahy, the fire chief.] In both “Long After Midnight” and “The Fireman,” Leahy is Montag’s immediate superior, chief tormentor and counterpoint to Professor Faber. Bradbury changed the chief’s name to Beatty for Fahrenheit 451 and made him one of the most recognized names in the world of Dystopic fiction.

429.18 “Yes…Plato and Socrates and Marcus Aurelius.”] Mildred’s follow-on comment (“Foreigners?”) is even more jarring here than in the earlier “Long After Midnight” text, where she was at least able to distinguish Plato (“Wasn’t he a European?”) from Poe and Shakespeare.

435.2–3 a fireman ‘takes’ a book, at a fire, almost by ‘accident.’] During this first indirect interrogation of Montag, Leahy does not name a specific book when he describes the 24-hour amnesty policy for a fireman who is tempted to examine the books he burns. In “Long After Midnight,” Bradbury had Leahy use the hypothetical example of Shakespeare, but then crossed it out and inserted the Bible. This is the book that Montag has taken from his last burning, and he will take it along on his visit to Professor Faber’s house before he finally turns it in to Leahy for destruction. At all these turns, Bradbury substituted the Bible for Shakespeare as he moved forward with “The Fireman.”

437.16–25 “And evening vanish…The shadow of the night comes on…”] Montag has blindly chosen lines from Archibald MacLeish’s “You, Andrew Marvel” (1930) for Mildred to read. In “Long After Midnight,” the readings came from the Book of Proverbs (15:2–4). In his revisions for Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury heightens Mildred’s bewilderment by changing the random reading to a contextless fragment of satire from Book 1 of Gulliver’s Travels.

441.26 copies of the Bible] Originally, in “Long After Midnight,” Montag had asked Faber how many copies of the works of Shakespeare were left in the world. From here through his visit with Faber and his eventual surrender of the book to Leahy, all the allusions had been to Shakespeare in the “Long After Midnight” text.

443.19–20 “Behold, the lilies of the field—”] In “Long After Midnight,” where Montag has taken the works of Shakespeare instead of the Bible, Bradbury has him trying to recall (over the din of the Denham’s Dentifrice ad) Hamlet’s third soliloquy instead of Matthew 6:28.

446.11–12 Shakespeare or Pirandello.] The list of playwrights had also included George Bernard Shaw in the “Long After Midnight” typescript.

447.12–33 Montag paced…I can’t take any more of this.] Faber’s decision to help Montag has little motivation in “Long After Midnight.” But as he revised for “The Fireman,” Bradbury created this pivotal final argument—Montag begins to destroy the last known copy of the Bible in front of Faber’s eyes to remind him “what it means to have your heart torn out.”

449.20 Book of Job] In the earlier “Long After Midnight” typescript, Montag has the works of Shakespeare instead of the Bible, and reads to himself from King Lear instead of Job.

450.2 to remember Job, for instance,] Montag was trying to memorize plays of Shakespeare rather than books of the Bible in “Long After Midnight.” The example in the earlier text was Hamlet.

453.1–19 “The Sea of Faith…Where ignorant armies clash by night.”] Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” is the central tie that binds all four of the core Fahrenheit texts. For “The Fireman,” Bradbury focused on the final two stanzas, and the original Galaxy printing follows Bradbury’s preferred source (Untermeyer’s A Treasury of Great Poems). Although the poem’s final lines provide one of the best-known anticipations of the failures of the modern world, the third stanza presents the “crisis of values” metaphor that had motivated Bradbury from the beginning. In their notes to this poem, Walter Houghton and G. Robert Stange interpret Arnold’s ebbing Sea of Faith in just the way that Bradbury himself understood it: “Though what is retreating is mainly religious faith, it is also faith of any kind, any coherent philosophy of the world which can make life meaningful” (Houghton and Stange, eds., Victorian Poetry and Poetics [Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1959], 484n).

454.33 the Bible] Montag turns in a Bible at this point near the end of Part Two; he is implicitly aware that Leahy knows the very title he had taken from the scene of his last burning early in Part One, and that Leahy is simply waiting to see if Montag will surrender it voluntarily. In “Long After Midnight,” Bradbury had initially used Shakespeare instead of the Bible throughout this sequence of events.

459.21 Water, Water, Quench Fire] Bradbury’s new title for Part Three replaces the earlier “Long After Midnight” title, Books Without Pages.

467.8–24 “Try the factory section,…across the country.”] Bradbury added Faber’s description of the Book People at this point in “The Fireman” text, along with the discussion of Faber’s plan to leave the city. Faber’s underestimation of the organization and long-range planning of the Book People effectively sets the stage for Granger’s subsequent revelations to Montag.

470.32 the Seashell at his ear] In the earlier “Long After Midnight” typescript photocopy, the little radio is called a Thimble; this was apparently an early shape-name for the device, which in an earlier passage of “Long After Midnight” was already being referred to as a Seashell. In “The Fireman,” the shape-name is “Seashell” six times; Millie’s ear-piece is called a “Thimble” once in Part One (412.22), but the older term carries through at no other points.

472.24 “My name is Granger,] Although this is an alias, the name Granger becomes a distinct identity for the leader of the Book People. In the earlier “Long After Midnight” version, the leader remains indistinguishable by name: “We’re all named Smith. That’s the way it is.”

474.14 “My real name is Clement,] Granger’s former professorship is the same in both “The Fireman” and “Long After Midnight,” but in the earlier work he gives his real surname as Stewart.

474.34–35 the Book of Job, but I haven’t even got that now.”] In “Long After Midnight,” his escape in the river had brought the Book of Job firmly back into his memory. This mastery sealed his new life with the Book People. For “The Fireman,” Bradbury left Montag textless when he joins the Book People, but Granger offers the possibility of hypnosis and assures Montag that “It’ll come when we need it.” Later, when the bombs suddenly fall on the distant city, the shock provides the necessary stimulus for Montag’s memory: “Now I remember another thing. Now I remember the Book of Job” (471.18–19).

476.16 “And John Dewey.”] In revising for “The Fireman,” Bradbury substituted the philosophical pragmatism of John Dewey in place of the far more problematic implications of Nietzche and his works.

476.25–29 And I am…Shakespeare.] Granger’s literary identities are different in the “Long After Midnight” typescript photocopy. In that earlier version, he is not the Biblical Ruth, and his bits and pieces include “snatches of Byron and Shaw and Washington and Galileo and DaVinci and Washington Irving.”

477.8–23 But our way is simpler…forever.] Granger’s highly detailed account of how the Book People survived, and how they plan to re-kindle literature in the future, was greatly expanded as Bradbury revised toward “The Fireman” text. The far shorter account in “Long After Midnight” (401.16–20) is only one sentence in length.

484.1–4 “To everything there is a season…a time to heal…”] Montag’s scattershot sequence of literary fragments offered in “Long After Midnight” is compressed in “The Fireman” to three verses from Ecclesiastes (3:1–3). Other voices from the Book People then contribute passages from their own literary identities in a more natural and dramatic moment of collaborative recitation. This passage was reworked yet again for Fahrenheit 451, where the voices of the other Book People are replaced by Montag’s expanding recollection of Biblical texts—the lines from Ecclesiastes lead him to recall Revelation 22:2 (the healing of nations) as the novel closes.