"Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury, Part 2: The Sieve and the Sand

In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury imagines a dystopian future in which firemen burn banned books and people are constantly bombarded with mindless entertainment. This classic novel is as powerful and relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1953.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Part 1: The Hearth and the Salamander, Part 2: The Sieve and the Sand, Part 3: Burning Bright

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. peer
    look searchingly
    The parlour was dead and Mildred kept peering in at it with a blank expression as Montag paced the floor and came back and squatted down and read a page as many as ten times, aloud.
  2. subside
    wear off or die down
    Montag did not look back at his wife as he went trembling along the hall to the kitchen, where he stood a long time watching the rain hit the windows before he came back down the hall in the grey light, waiting for the tremble to subside.
  3. admit
    declare to be true or accept the reality of
    The old man admitted to being a retired English professor who had been thrown out upon the world forty years ago when the last liberal arts college shut for lack of students and patronage.
  4. sieve
    a strainer for separating lumps from powdered material
    Once as a child he had sat upon a yellow dune by the sea in the middle of the blue and hot summer day, trying to fill a sieve with sand, because some cruel cousin had said, “Fill this sieve and you'll get a dime!”
  5. plea
    a humble request for help from someone in authority
    It was a plea, a cry so terrible that Montag found himself on his feet, the shocked inhabitants of the loud car staring, moving back from this man with the insane, gorged face, the gibbering, dry mouth, the flapping book in his fist.
  6. retaliation
    action taken in return for an injury or offense
    The train radio vomited upon Montag, in retaliation, a great ton-load of music made of tin, copper, silver, chromium, and brass.
  7. strew
    spread by scattering
    Behind him, the door to a bedroom stood open, and in that room a litter of machinery and steel tools was strewn upon a desk-top.
  8. divert
    turn aside; turn away from
    Montag had only a glimpse, before Faber, seeing Montag's attention diverted, turned quickly and shut the bedroom door and stood holding the knob with a trembling hand.
  9. insidious
    working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way
    “It's an insidious plan, if I do say so myself.”
  10. treason
    a crime that undermines the offender's government
    “To see the firehouses burn across the land, destroyed as hotbeds of treason.
  11. devour
    eat immoderately
    The salamander devours his tail!
  12. linguist
    a specialist in the study of language
    “Aren't there professors like yourself, former writers, historians, linguists...?”
  13. accord
    concurrence of opinion
    The public itself stopped reading of its own accord.
  14. complement
    make perfect or supply what is wanting
    My cowardice is of such a passion, complementing the revolutionary spirit that lives in its shadow, I was forced to design this.”
  15. refuge
    a safe place
    Playing the stock-market, of course, the last refuge in the world for the dangerous intellectual out of a job.
  16. accompaniment
    an event or situation happening at the same time as another
    A minute later, Three White Cartoon Clowns chopped off each other's limbs to the accompaniment of immense incoming tides of laughter.
  17. disperse
    distribute loosely
    Some were missing and he knew that she had started on her own slow process of dispersing the dynamite in her house, stick by stick.
  18. assure
    inform positively and with certainty and confidence
    His mind would well over at last and he would not be Montag any more, this the old man told him, assured him, promised him.
  19. filigree
    delicate and intricate ornamentation
    It was good listening to the beetle hum, the sleepy mosquito buzz and delicate filigree murmur of the old man's voice at first scolding him and then consoling him in the late hour of night as he emerged from the steaming subway toward the firehouse world.
  20. invigorate
    give life or energy to
    I must admit that your blind raging invigorated me.
  21. pry
    inquire in an uninvited or presumptuous manner
    If you need help when Beatty pries at you, I'll be sitting right here in your eardrum making notes!”
  22. manifest
    reveal its presence or make an appearance
    For these were the hands that had acted on their own, no part of him, here was where the conscience first manifested itself to snatch books, dart off with Job and Ruth and Willie Shakespeare, and now, in the firehouse, these hands seemed gloved with blood.
  23. cite
    make reference to
    And ‘The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.’
  24. verbiage
    overabundance of words
    And you shrieked, ‘Knowledge is power!’ and ‘A dwarf on a giant's shoulders of the furthest of the two!’ and I summed my side up with rare serenity in, ‘The folly of mistaking a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself as an oracle, is inborn in us, Mr. Valery once said.’”
  25. rebut
    overthrow by argument, evidence, or proof
    “Oh, you were scared silly,” said Beatty, “for I was doing a terrible thing in using the very books you clung to, to rebut you on every hand, on every point!
  26. beatific
    experiencing or displaying extreme joy or bliss
    And you got in and we drove back to the firehouse in beatific silence, all dwindled away to peace.”
  27. tyranny
    dominance through threat of punishment and violence
    Oh, God, the terrible tyranny of the majority.
  28. vantage
    the quality of having a superior or more favorable position
    They leaped into the air and clutched the brass pole as if it were the last vantage point above a tidal wave passing below, and then the brass pole, to their dismay slid them down into darkness, into the blast and cough and suction of the gaseous dragon roaring to life!
  29. displace
    take the position of or have precedence over
    One anger displacing another.
  30. halt
    an interruption or temporary suspension of progress
    The Salamander boomed to a halt, throwing men off in slips and clumsy hops.

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