"Each time he made the turn, he saw only the white, unused, buckling sidewalk, with perhaps, on one night, something vanishing swiftly across a lawn"... p.11 Fahreheit 451

Does it mean that the sidewalk is bent (upward), as when a tree grows next to a sidewalk and distorts it to make room for its roots? But then again, it seems paradoxical that it's buckling but also unused... Any thoughts?

  • If the buckling is caused by tree roots (as is common, along with frost heaves) why do you think it presumes actual use?
    – mike65535
    Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 16:47

2 Answers 2


Something that is buckling is overloaded.

This is a common verb to describes forces acting on metal, wood, concrete, etc. such that they lose their shape.

buckling sidewalks means that ridges have appeared in them.

If something buckles completely, like a building, it falls down.

However, a sidewalk can buckle (have ridges appear in it) from forces acting in an upward direction and not be completely destroyed.

buckling is the result of increased compression of a material (concrete, wood, metal, etc.)

buckling in engineering parlance


Yes, the only meaning I can ascribe to this is that the sidewalk is bending under stress.

My interpretation is that it means that it is not being maintained, and hasn't been for a long time.


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