Towns turn into motels, people in nomadic surges from place to place, following the moon tides, living tonight in the room where you slept this noon and I the night before.

(Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, p.75)

Is the author referring to the alternate rising and falling of the sea, and that these people are following the tide - I guess as it ebbs out? I know that tides are mostly influenced by the moon, but is there another reason the author is emphasizing this?

  • the moon controls the tides, that's all.
    – Lambie
    Feb 21, 2021 at 16:40
  • It might also be for the sake of the sound, the rhyme or near-rhyme with "room" and "noon". Read it out loud: "from place to place, following the moon tides, living tonight in the room where you slept this noon and I the night before". I haven't read the book, though, so I don't know whether Bradbury does usually indulge in this kind of semi-poetry.
    – A. B.
    May 20, 2021 at 3:47

1 Answer 1


This is just a guess, but lunar tides occur approximately twice a day. The description of motel occupancy seems to suggest that each group occupies the room for one-half day: others tonight, you at noon today, and he the night before. That would be a description of double-speed change compared to the usual minimum of one-day occupancy.

The bigger mystery of the passage, to me, is why he didn't say "... people move in nomadic surges..."; the sentence doesn't quite hang together for me.

  • 1
    Just a thought on my suggestion for what would make the sentence hang together better, instead of inserting "move" after "people", if one changes the "in" to "into", it would be "Towns turn into motels, people into nomadic surges from place to place, following ...". May 1, 2020 at 15:41
  • 1
    I'm not sure why, exactly, the wording "moon tides" reminds me of the fact that tides happen twice a day, more than just saying "tides" would, but you're right, it does. Perhaps it's just because it draws attention to what exactly tides are and how they work, rather than taking them for granted. And just to clarify: yes, tides usually are "moon tides" and it's not usual to specify it, this is not some kind of established phrase in English or with a special meaning, so this is a matter of writing style rather than of literal meaning.
    – A. B.
    May 20, 2021 at 3:53

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