Water, the opposing force to fire, takes on meaning as a metaphor for escape. Millie, ever in need of escape from the opportunity to think, uses her seashell radio to occupy her brain at night, as "an electronic ocean of sound . . coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind. . Every night the waves came in and bore her off on their great tides of sound, floating her, wide-eyed, toward morning. There had been no night in the last two years that Mildred had not swum that sea". Montag also eventually finds escape through water, but he is running from an oppressive society rather than from reality. After questioning Clarisse about her motivation to walk in the rain and catch drops in her mouth, Montag begins to question himself, his career, and his marriage. While he does so, Montag tilts his head back, and for the first time, drinks in the raindrops.
Set in the twenty-fourth century, Fahrenheit 451 introduces a new world in which control of the masses by the media, overpopulation, and censorship has taken over the general population. The individual is not accepted and the intellectual is considered an outlaw. Television has replaced the common perception of family. The fireman is now seen as a flamethrower, a destroyer of books rather than an insurance against fire. Books are considered evil because they make people question and think. The people live in a world with no reminders of history or appreciation of the past; the population receives the present from television.