“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
“It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
Hello, all! It’s the first Saturday of a new month, and that must mean I am analyzing a book quote. Today’s quote comes from the fantastic book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, which I recently read and am considering reviewing for you. (I have several options, and am leaving it up to you to decide. See below for more details!)
For now, let’s talk about the above quote, particularly the part I put in bold. I picked this one because I think it’s really striking (you can find many more on Goodreads if you’re interested–be warned, there is some language in some of them). Let’s analyze: why is it so striking, and what can we writers learn from it?
1. It speaks to truth. A big theme of Fahrenheit 451 is that books speak to truth (or, at least, they should). Ironically, or perhaps purposefully, Bradbury is doing exactly that here. This quote comes near the end of the book, and he wants to leave us with something that speaks to what the storyworld is not, at the moment, but might become, something that it used to be. This quote embodies the theme of the story: life should be worth something. We should all have quotes somewhere in our books that bring out the themes of our stories.
2. Literary devices are used well. In the second sentence, Bradbury uses parallelism to make his point; each phrase has a similar structure. This reinforces the ideas presented in the reader’s mind and makes the writer’s point better. (Of course, this would only work coming from particularly well-spoken characters, such as the well-read man who is speaking about his grandfather here.) Bradbury also uses the metaphor of the soul going into an object when it dies to make his writing that much more powerful.
Before I finish, I need you to help me decide which book to review this month. I read three candidates, described below:
The Tombs of Atuan: I reviewed the first book in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle, A Wizard of Earthsea, back in April. The Tombs of Atuan is the second book, and I thought it was just as good as the first.
Fahrenheit 451: I had wanted to read this classic about book-burning for years, and finally got it out from the library this past month. I flew through it, and it was every bit as good as I’ve been told.
The Andromeda Strain: I had previously read Jurassic Park, another of Michael Crichton’s sci-fi novels. As part of my recent sci-fi kick, I read The Andromeda Strain, about an extraterrestrial organism that comes down to Earth on a satellite and promptly causes disease and mayhem. It thrilled my inner scientist, but not so much my inner writer.
Just answer in the typeform below to give your opinion! The review will go up on the 18th.
What do you think of today’s quote? Have you read Fahrenheit 451? Did you like it? Which book did you vote for? Share in the comments!