Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This is a type of cautionary fiction that is about a world/society which hasn’t existed. This book was first published in 1953. The major themes of the book are independent thought, censorship, government control, self-reflection, the value of books etc. Ideas are always special and should be treasured. What do you care about?

Montag was a fireman who burned books for a living. The houses and its belongings were all fireproof and there was no need for ordinary firemen who put out fires. One day, he met his new neighbor called Clarisse. She was only 17. Clarisse had this ability to slow things down and appreciate the finer beauties in life. Paying attention to the finer details in life was something she was good at. Montag began to start questioning his life. Mildred, his wife, was addicted to drugs and television. Like almost everyone else, they didn’t know how to think for themselves. There was always plenty of violence on the streets. Montag owned an intelligent mechanical dog called the Hound and its job was to look after the firemen when they burned books. Books were banned in the town and a woman was scalded to death when she refused to leave her house when the firemen burned it. This led Montag thinking about the value of books. He secretly stole a book and kept it in his house. In the meantime, Clarisse seemed to have disappeared. Gradually, Montag realized he didn’t like his wife anymore. Radio and TV and propaganda had a huge impact on the general population. The government wanted everyone to be pleasant and wanted people to not think, yet feel happy. Conflicting thoughts led to unhappiness. If men didn’t understand history, they would not compare their current state with previous generations. His wife found out that he was hiding books and was furious.

Professor Faber wanted to preserve the books and met Montag. Self-reflection was something that no one practiced. Faber gave him a special communication chip that Montag could wear so that he could overhear his conversations with other men. Montag was heading off for his next assignment.

The firemen arrived at Montag’s house. Apparently, the hound was hired by the government to spy on him and it detected the presence of books in Montag’s house. Mildred left in a hurry and never returned. Beatty, a fireman, burned his books and realized that he was wearing a wire. In a fit of rage, Montag torched both Beatty and the hound to death. The entire town was looking for Montag, the fugitive. Mass media highlighted that a man was on the loose. Despite the constant surveillance, the injured Montag and Haber managed to escape to a railroad. The apparent victim ‘Montag’ was seized by the Hound. However, it was just a cover-up plan by the government to show its efficiency and the real Montag was safe. A group of academics met Montag and each produced their books. They devised a unique way of reading and memorizing all the facts in the books. This was the safest way of going undetected. The plan was to teach the younger generations on the facts and ideas contained in the books. Shape the world and do things via your actions!

We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. – Beatty

 

You can’t build a house without nails and wood. If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood. If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. – Beatty

 

Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving…Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy and sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy. – Beatty

 

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shows made…Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. – Mr Granger

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