In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the main character, Guy Montag, is a firefighter. However, he is not a firefighter in the traditional sense of the word. Instead of putting out fires, his job is to set them.
In the future that this novel is set in, millions of books are banned and the only way people are allowed to learn is through television and radio programs, comics, and other forms of entertainment that make people “happy.” In this society, making people happy and equal to one another intellectually is the main goal. It is believed that higher forms of learning, such as the knowledge gained from most books, would be detrimental to this objective. In order to keep this objective, books are banned and burned when found in people’s possessions. That is where Guy Montag’s job comes in. However, when he meets a curious girl named Clarisse, who, unlike the rest of society, likes asking questions, he begins to ask some questions of his own.
The tone of this novel is a dark one. It deals with the main character discovering a new, not necessarily good outlook on the world he accepted before. It also features many issues that could occur if society could not advance due to lack of knowledge. The idea of censorship that is addressed in this novel is a difficult one, and that is proven when the main character himself goes against his societal rules, his job, and his family values to experience what it is like to read books.
Ray Bradbury seems to want the reader to feel like a world without books would be unexceptional and monotonous. Without the knowledge and expertise that can be gained from reading, society could never advance and people would be stuck in the same rut that Guy Montag realizes he is in when he talks to Clarisse. At one point in the book, Clarisse says to Guy “It’s a lot of funnels and a lot of water poured down the spout and out the bottom, and them telling us it’s wine when it’s not” (33). This quote shows how their society is full of dreariness and lies in order for them to feel “happy” and “equal”. In reading this book, I have fully realized that I never want to experience a life without books. Overall, I think that Ray Bradbury was successful in making his readers feel a connection to Fahrenheit 451’s world that is lacking knowledge and advancement.
While this book was a bit tedious to read due to the author’s style of writing, which is so unlike current writing styles, I still am walking away from this novel with a new understanding of how important books are to society. Readers definitely need to read between the lines in order to fully understand both the underlying meaning and what is occurring. It reads more like rambling thoughts, which in a way tells the story better than any structured writing style would. Bradbury started and completed this novel in nine days on a rented typewriter that he payed for per half hour, which I personally find extremely impressive. While I was not the biggest fan of this book, I still feel like I have learned a lot from Fahrenheit 451 and I recommend it to both teens and adults alike.
-Kaelyn L., 10th grade