What does "eating of itself" mean? Is it standard usage? Fahrenheit 451

Montag, falling flat, going down, saw or felt, or imagined he saw or felt the walls go dark in Millie's face, heard her screaming, because in the millionth part of time left, she saw her own face reflected there, in a mirror instead of a crystal ball, and it was such a wildly empty face, all by itself in the room, touching nothing, starved and eating of itself, that at last she recognized it as her own and looked quickly up at the ceiling as it and the entire structure of the hotel blasted down upon her, carrying her with a million pounds of brick, metal, plaster, and wood, to meet other people in the hives below, all on their quick way down to the cellar where the explosion rid itself of them in its own unreasonable way.

1 Answer 1


I would say that "eating of itself" in the quoted passage means"eating itself" or "consuming itself". Further I would say that this passage uses "eating" in a metaphorical way, not a literal way.

The passage is dense and complex. I think that is because it is trying to convey a very brief flash of thought that Montag had, including several metaphors that occurred to him.

Bradbury often uses multiple layers of metaphor, but usually not as tightly intertwined as they are in this passage.

I take it that here Bradbury is saying that the facew is "empty" because Millie has been consuming her own essence, her own personality.

You might get a better analysis of this passage on Literature.SE.


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