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In Fahrenheit 451, what event or quote is in reference to Ecclesiastes?


The men with Montag (the one who has memorized parts of Ecclesiastes) have just seen the city across the river incinerated by the bombers. They decide to go back to the city to search for survivors and Granger (their leader) speaks about the legend of the Phoenix and compares it to how mankind keeps going about in these endless cycles of destruction. Granger’s words reflect the opening lines of Ecclesiastes, “The earth does not change . . . Everything goes on in endless cycles . . . we have forgotten what happened before our time and in the future the memory of what is taking place now will also vanish.”
After listening to Granger’s story the group begins to walk along the river. In the final paragraphs of the book, Montag is thinking about what he has read that applies to this situation. The “time poem” from Ecclesiastes comes to mind. It fits because it too says that mankind is always going from season to season: living, dying, planting, reaping, weeping, laughing, killing, healing, loving and hating. These cycles define human existence. But Montag keeps these words to himself for he wants to says something to the men that has more hope, a sense that the ongoing cycles may one day be finished and a new world will begin. His mind goes to the final chapter of the final book of the Bible – “And on either side of the river was there a tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” This, he decides, is the quote he will share, “When we reach the city” (the closing line from Fahrenheit 451).

This book has special meaning to me for after studying Ecclesiastes for 30 years I completed a new translation, memorized it, and like Montag, I now travel about and perform it for those who want to understand ancient wisdom for modern life.

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