What does Beatty mean in the following quote from Fahrenheit 451:

“Life becomes one big pratfall, Montag; everything bang; boff, and wow!”

Does this quote imply that Beatty himself realizes that life could go wrong any minute? Or does it mean that Beatty's life or life in general still had its fair share of hardships?

1 Answer 1


The context to this quote is very useful. It's from the section when Beatty is telling Montag about the dumbing-down of life over the ages: shorten the books, add pictures, add games constantly, organize sports, cram things full of fluff, nursery to college to nursery:

School is shortened [...] Life is immediate

Thus the part

everything bang; boff, and wow!

promptly becomes clear from context. Life is flashy, in your face, full of empty comics and movies: bangs and flashes of smoke, 'wow's from whatever is currently in line of site. 'Boff' I'm not familiar with; could be slang from somewhere, but in context the meaning is clear: something flashy and in your face.

Life becomes one big pratfall

Is also, therefore, clear from context: the general impression is that life is something of indulgence and emptiness, without any clear meaning. And this is what the people want! This is why Beatty's speech to Montag is so powerful: this isn't the fault of the firefighters. It's the fault of the people themselves.

  • 1
    Bradbury probably meant 'boff' in the sense of the first definition at thefreedictionary.com/boff namely: "A line in a play or film, for example, that elicits a big laugh"
    – user14111
    Jan 8, 2019 at 0:38

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