If you want to know what Fahrenheit 451 is about, look no further than your own neighborhood… Fahrenheit 451 was written in 1953, but if I didn’t know better, I’d say that Ray Bradbury had traveled, Oh, 50 odd years into the future, taken a look around, and went rushing back to “The Good Old Days” to write this novel. That’s because Fahrenheit 451 tells a story of the futuristic world in which people are constantly “Plugged In” to various sources of entertainment. The walls of their houses are actually enormous TVs. Newspapers are dead.
And did I mention that books are now illegal?
Sounds like a pretty monstrous place to live — and it is. There’s plenty of information, just no knowledge. There’s more free time than ever, but no time to really think. There is stuff, stuff, and more stuff, but the stuff that really feeds us – like nature, and real connections with other people has been shut out by rampant materialism.
And the result is a society that’s blind to its own ignorance – and being destroyed by it. Sound familiar if not you’re exactly the audience Ray Bradbury had in mind when he wrote his book.
Stick around before it’s too late…
you may also like: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
True story: “Ray Bradbury,” wrote this book in 9 days, on rented typewriter that he had to pay (by the half hour!) to use. No wonder the plot of Fahrenheit 451 races along at such a breakneck speed. Guy Montag is the fireman. But not the kind that puts out fires. The kind that starts them. He burns the books for a living. And the houses that house the books. And sometimes the people who own the houses.
Then guy meets his new neighbor, Clarisse, a girl who thinks for herself and who wakes him up to the idea that things could be different…
- Can you hear the alarm bells?
- Can you see the fire licking at Guy’s heels?
That’s because, in a morally bankrupt society like Guy’s, it’s hard to have a moral transformation and not go unnoticed.
Beatty, the fire chief, discovers that Guy’s been squirreling away the books he’s supposed to burn. He discovers Guy’s connection with a book-loving professor named Faber.
- Here’s where the rented typewriter comes in.
- Can you see Bradbury’s fingers flying?
Montag torches Beatty becomes a fugitive is chased through the city by a mechanical hound (otherwise known as the killing machine), escapes to the country, hooks up with a bunch of intellectual outcasts, watches, and apocalypse and… Ding!
I guess time must have been up because the story ends with Montag walking off with his fellow book-lovers into the sunshine.
Fahrenheit 451 is the book that has definitely ended up on lists of banned books. Isn’t that ironic given that Bradbury’s number one theme is:
So, with the pages & pages about the book burning and book banning & books being “dangerous”, it is not hard to figure out what Bradbury was trying to say: he’s against censorship, of course, but here’s the vital part of this theme.
Bradbury isn’t just against banning books. What Bradbury is really railing against in Fahrenheit 451 is the king of “thoughtlessness” — the kind of limited thinking and narrow-mindedness – that he believes is at the heart of censorship.
Books have fallen out of favor for all sorts of reasons in Fahrenheit 451. Other forms of entertainment have taken over. There is just too much stimulation to allow for quiet thought. But the bigger point is not why books have fallen out of favor, but what’s happened as a result. In Bradbury society, people expect to be fed information. They don’t really think for themselves. And like Mildred’s friend who voted for the president based on the candidate’s look, they’re incredibly superficial. That’s what Bradbury wants his readers to be alert to – and to challenge. We all know what will happen otherwise. Books – like Bradbury’s get – banned.
if you think that Ray Bradbury spends a lot of time contradicting himself, you’d be right. That’s because one of Bradbury’s motifs is Paradoxes.
Here’s the thing about the society in Fahrenheit 451: what’s going on in the surface doesn’t match what’s going on beneath the surface. Like the people, Montag comes into contact with. They may seem like they’re living, but they’re soulless — they’re spiritually & emotionally dead. And Bradbury uses the motif of Paradoxes to get at this contradiction.
For example, Montag’s wife, Mildred, is often described as both there and not there. In other words, she’s physically in Montag’s presence, but her thoughts are elsewhere. Mildred & Montag may talk but she can’t emotionally connect. Mildred is also described as dead and alive — almost as though she’s a machine.
- She thinks (because her brain is functioning), but yet she doesn’t really think.
- She’s alive (because her heart is pumping), but she’s not engaged with the world in any kind of meaningful way.
Ultimately, these paradoxes & others are a constant reminder of the unsubstantiality and unreality (masquerading as substantiality & reality) that both Montag and his author are fighting against.
Fahrenheit 451 sort of reads like a comic book. That’s because it’s cast is all about the good guys and the bad guys… and the gray guy in between.
Professor Faber: He wanna change the world. He wanna protect books & knowledge and meaning & substance. He calls himself a coward for being unable to protect them, but it’s his courage – and his willingness to act – that ultimately saved Montag’s life & start to turn the tide of ignorance.
BAD GUY, BAD GIRL:
Mildred Montag: Guy’s petty, small-minded wife. He wants to open her eyes to the oppression of ignorance. She just wanna watch TV.
GOOD GUY GOOD GIRL:
Clarisse McLellan: She picks flowers. She seeks friendships. She’s happy. Which is why she’s a social outcast. Clarisse opens the eyes of Guy Montag to the possibility of beauty & meaning in the world.
Captain Beatty: He knows books. He manipulates what the books say to manipulate others. Beatty tries to confuse & control Montag in a desperate attempt to maintain the status quo.
Guy Montag: Third generation fireman. Burns books for a living. Starts to hunt out meaning in the books he’s supposed to be burning.
Download Links to Fahrenheit 451:
Fahrenheit 451 is the banned book so we are unable to give you the download links to this novel. But you can easily buy this novel from Amazon. The link is given below.