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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials - Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is a science fiction novel written by Ray Bradbury. It tells the tale of a dystopian American society where books are illegal and firemen are dispatched to burn books when they are discovered. One of these firemen, Guy Montag, secretly starts reading and challenges the status quo. The title refers to the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns, but the heat of a fire can both destroy and cleanse. Fire imagery in the book involves both destruction and hope for rebirth.

Cover image from "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury.  Part of the Qwiz5 series by Qwiz Quizbowl Camp, written to help quiz bowl teams power more tossups!

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer questions. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at five of its most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on Fahrenheit 451.


Montag is the protagonist of Fahrenheit 451. He is a fireman, who, in the dystopian world of Fahrenheit 451, is someone responsible for burning books (which have been banned by the government). A chance encounter with a neighbor girl (Clarice McClellan) whose family still reads causes Guy to be curious about books. He starts secretly stealing them and hiding them in his home.


Mildred is Guy’s wife. She is obsessed with the dramas that she sees on the parlor wall (a large wall-sized television). She is horrified when she discovers that Guy has been stealing books and tries to overdose on sleeping pills.


Faber is a former English professor that Guy visits to help him understand the books that he’s been stealing. He gives Guy a green bullet - an earpiece that he uses to secretly communicate with Guy. He is eventually discovered and flees on a bus to St. Louis to escape the firemen.


One evening, Mildred has her friends Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles over to watch the parlor wall. In an effort to engage the women intellectually, Montag starts reading Matthew Arnold’s poem Dover Beach. Mrs. Phelps is so moved that she begins to cry, but Mildred is furious. She later turns Guy in to the firemen.


Captain Beatty is Guy’s boss at the fire department. When Mildred turns in Guy, Beatty goes to Guy’s house and orders him to burn it with a flame thrower. Guy does this and turns the flame thrower on Captain Beatty, killing him. After killing Beatty, Montag flees, pursued by a mechanical hound. Using the green bullet, Faber helps Montag elude the mechanical hound and escape.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:

* According to a review in the New York Times, Fahrenheit 451 is the “book for our social media age”. Find out why by reading the article.

* How was Fahrenheit 451 a product of the McCarthy era? Read more here...

* Listen to an interview with Ray Bradbury from NPR below…

* Finally, watch a cool animated summary of Fahrenheit 451 from TED-Ed:


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