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When Montag and Mildred spend the afternoon reading, Montag reads the following line from one of his books:

It is computed that eleven thousand persons have at several times suffered death rather than submit to break their eggs at the smaller end.”

The excerpt is from "Gulliver’s Travels", an 18th century work by Irish writer and poet Jonathan Swift. What is the meaning of the line and how are Swift's words relevant to Fahrenheit 451, either thematically or with respect to its plot?


Swift's writing parodies politicians who ignore the wishes of the citizens they represent, even though the politician's re-election depends on the votes of those same citizens. Bradbury alludes to Swift's work to illustrate the way in which Beatty causes his own demise.


Swift's writing highlights the degree to which society will go to enforce conformity. When Montag reads this quote to Millie, he is pointing out that some people are willing to die rather than compromise their personal values even if others may believe their position to be unreasonable or irrational.


The line refers to thousands of farmers who were wrongfully imprisoned during the 1700s after they formed their own chicken and egg-trading collective to avoid paying a heavy agricultural tax. By reading this excerpt to Mildred, Montag is trying to convince his wife that the government doesn't always have its citizens' best interests as heart.


Swift's words are a metaphor for the imprudence of "putting all one's eggs in one basket," a statement about the consequences of poor planning. Montag reads this line to Mildred in order to show her that, without literature, humans will continue to make the same errors in the future.


In this line, Swift conveys the idea that, for some, death is preferable to human suffering. Montag finds comfort when he reads this because it leads him to think that Clarisse "is in a better place," even if her death was tragic.

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