Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451…the temperature at which books burn.

So, I thought since none of you have read Fahrenheit 451, I would tell you a little bit about it and maybe in your spare time (because we all have so much) you can read it.  The book takes place in the future (like Brave New World) and describes a dystopian society where books are banned and burned and never to be read.  The main character, Guy Montag, is a fireman, which in the book is very different from our definition of a fireman because they set fire to books and homes that are found to be hiding books.  Fireman actually means book burner.

What traitors books can be! You think they’re backing you up, and they turn on you. Others can use them, too, and there you are, lost in the middle of the moor, in a great welter of nouns and verbs and adjectives. (p. 107)

I don’t want to tell you too much because then what’s the point of reading it.  I just thought of this book a lot while reading Brave New World because of them not letting the people in the World State read books because they didn’t want them forming opinions.  After Montag meets a young girl, Clarisse, who describes the world to him before books were burned Montag’s curiosity gets the best of him and he starts stealing books from the houses they burn and hiding them in his house.  He eventually runs away and finds a place in similar to the Reservation in Brave New World.  In this society there is a group of people there called “The Book People,” because they have memorized books and they share them with eachother.  In a quote from a synopsis on The Big Read, you can see many of the parallels between the society in this book and Brave New World:

The people in this society do not read books, enjoy nature, spend time by themselves, think independently or have meaningful conversations.  Instead, they drive very fast, watch excessive amounts of television on wall-size sets, and listen to the radio on “Seashell Radio” sets attached to their ears.

There are many similarities between the two books, so I think if you enjoyed Brave New World, you would also like Fahrenheit 451.  The author is Ray Bradbury and it was published in 1953, there is also a movie made in 1966.

Interesting note: They have been trying to remake the movie since 1994 with stars like Mel Gibson, Brad Pitt, and Tom Hanks playing Guy Montag.  Several of these have fallen through, Tom Hanks pulled out of the role in 2008 and they are still looking for the perfect actor to portray Montag.

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2 responses to “Fahrenheit 451

  1. It sounds a lot like today’s society, only that people don’t burn books … they just don’t read them. I’m not sure which is worse. At least in this particular book, people “care” about books … total apathy toward them is sad.

  2. Andy Cavanaugh

    Hi, Erin,

    Ben’s point is a good one. And Postman says something similar, that our society may be one in which we don’t need to worry about banning books because our entertainments will take their place anyway.

    Thanks for this post! I think I read Farenheit 451 in high school. Your description brought back memories.

    -Andy

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