McCarthyism is when people make false accusations about others. Joseph McCarthy was a United States senator who alleged communists had infiltrated the government in an effort to make the United States follow communism. In an effort to expose the spies, McCarthy searched for Americans who had relations with communism in the past, such as if they attended a rally about communism. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they supported communism or wanted the United States to follow communism. These people were ultimately taken to court and were forced to answer McCarthy’s questions, a violation of the 5th amendment of the United States Constitution. Not only were they then placed in jail, but they were forced to name others who also had followed communism, even if they knew of nobody. In other words, the people were blacklisted. Blacklisting is when people who cannot be trusted are compiled into a list. Some famous people who were blacklisted were Lester Cole and Herbert Biberman. They were both part of the Hollywood Ten, a group of screenwriters who were accused of being communists and refused to testify regarding their involvement. This violated everyone’s rights and censored the people as they could not freely express their opinions on communism. In Fahrenheit 451, the government burns books and limits the amount of knowledge the people gain. The people are restricted in formulating their own opinions and are forced to listen to the government and their views. Bradbury criticizes and shows the consequences McCarthyism has in Fahrenheit 451.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is an incredibly interesting and, at times, deeply unsettling novel on just how far humanity will go to suppress what it doesn’t understand.
The book is set in a dystopian future- the United States has become a massively powerful republic, and all news coverage and media are centered around a single event: the “War,” which the Republic is winning. It centers around a seemingly ordinary firefighter named Montag- but in this universe, firefighters do not put out fires. They light them, burning down houses which contain contraband items, usually books.
On one such night, Montag witnesses one woman refuse to leave her house, choosing to burn with her books- and is unsettled. How important must books be if she is willing to die with them? From the smoldering wreckage of the house, Montag takes a single book home with him. On his way home, he meets a teenager named Clarisse, who is out alone, walking in the night. Clarisse expresses the beauty of the night, and how the fallen autumn leaves “smell like cinnamon.” Montag is again deeply uncomfortable- primarily because he himself never thought to look up at the night sky or focus on the smell of fallen leaves. Soon, wracked with guilt about his crime of taking a book, Montag decides he will simply read a few pages to satisfy his curiosity, and then burn the book. But what he finds will change his life forever….
I, personally, have a love-hate relationship with this book. The dialogue is clumsy, the expositions are vague, and the setup and lead-ins for the plot are often simply nonexistent. However, what makes Fahrenheit 451 so memorable is the ideology rather than the imagery. There are indeed some beautifully-written passages where Bradbury fully lives up to the term “author” and beyond- but the idea that the slow eradication of culture and eccentricity is the individual citizen’s fault as much as it is the government’s really rings true in today’s society especially.
Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was, and still is, a well-renowned author known for his science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories and novels.
Born in Waukegan, Illinois, Bradbury’s start as a writer began very early on at the age of 12. He had a fateful encounter with a carnival magician by the name of Mr. Electrico who proclaimed “Live forever!” to which Bradbury decided to never stop writing.
Soon after this encounter at age 14, the Bradbury family moved to Los Angeles. When the Great Depression hit, Bradbury couldn’t afford to attend college so he instead attended the local library three days a week for ten whole years to acquire his education.
Over the course of his career, Bradbury published thousands of literary works including 400 short stories and 50 novels. In addition to this, Bradbury has also earned dozens of awards including the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award, and the Pulitzer Prize Citation.
I was first introduced to Ray Bradbury in the 6th grade with one of his short stories titled All Summer in a Day. The story is about a group of students who live on the never-ending rainy planet of Venus that have never seen the sun with the exception of a young girl named Margot who only moved to Venus five years prior. As our class read through in monotone uninterested voices (as most children do), I remember sitting there in awe at his simple yet elaborate descriptions of simple things such as the sun or the rain, the fantastical world he created on Venus, and the development of the characters in only a couple of pages. I remember that being the first time a short story truly made me feel something, like a deep pit in my chest.
The second short story I ready from Ray Bradbury was A Sound of Thunder, a story about time travelers who have something in drastic in store when they arrive in the past and return to the present. It was in this short story that I was truly enamored by his descriptions of the dinosaurs which were so incredibly elaborate that I felt like I was standing right there in front of them. It was when I read this short story that I set my own goal of creating scenes of such immaculate sensory description.
Ray Bradbury was not only a spectacular author but a person with an incredibly inspiring story and a true passion for something he loved to do. If you’re looking for a good long read or a good quick read, this is an author that will give you something interesting to read for years and years on end.
Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 — June 6, 2012) was born in Waukegan, Illinois, USA. He loved adventure stories and fantasy novels, especially the fantastic stories edited by Gernsback. When he was twelve, he was given a typewriter for his birthday. He began to practice his writing. As early as middle school, he took an elective course on how to write a novel. He began to contribute to several magazines in 1941, became a professional writer in 1943, and won the Best American Short Story Award three years later. He has written several novels, such as “Fahrenheit 451” is quite famous. But he is also known for his short stories, so far short stories published nearly 20 units, including the famous are: “The Martian Chronicles” (1950), “the Golden Apples of the Sun” (1953), “The Rocket” (1962), “Last Night of the World” (1966), etc. Bradbury is not only a world-famous science fiction writer, but also one of the leading grammarian in contemporary American literature. In addition to writing science fiction, he wrote screenplays and social fiction, and adapted the classic American literary work “Moby Dick” by Melville into a screenplay. He himself drew nourishment from the classics as well.
Bradbury is one of those rare writers whose work has changed the way people think. With over 500 books — including short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, television plays, and poetry — he represented the pinnacle of American imagination. Once you read his work, his words will stick with you. His enduring appeal to both the old and the young proves once again that Bradbury was a true classic of the 20th century.
Books have a way of taking us to new and exciting places, and a lot of times those are places we wish we could go visit. Places like Hogwarts and Camp Half Blood are places that captures a reader’s heart and make you wish you could just jump through the pages and join in the adventure– and yet there a few fictional worlds that I am very glad are just that… fictional.
While the The Hunger Games is a great trilogy full of action and excitement, the country of Panem is one I’m glad exists only on paper. The thought of being entered into a drawing and forced to fight to the death at such young ages is something that I am glad I don’t have to worry about. Even though the concept that drives the story is something that I’m sure almost everyone would be against if it was implemented in society, there is something that makes it incredibly alluring to read about. The huge disconnect between the Capitol and the districts is something that in a way is reflective of our own government, and I think this is part of why readers are drawn to strongly to the story. This draw is further enhanced by Katniss’s incredible drive to protect those she loves, something which also aids in making the story relatable. Overall, the world of Panem is one that we can love to hate.
The Giver takes place in an unnamed, futuristic society that at first glance is a utopia. Everything in this world is designed to make life as pleasant and convenient as possible; everyone is always polite, there is no war, no sickness, essentially everything unpleasant about life has been eliminated. Through reading the book and following the story of Jonas, the child who has been given the job of the Receiver of Memory at the Ceremony of Twelve (12 is the age at which children get their assignments, or roles they will play in the society), the reader begins to see that this utopia comes with a price. By eliminating all negatives aspects of life the society has really eliminated what makes people, people, something that Jonas learns while receiving the society’s collective memory. The Giver is a great reminder that even though life can be painful and unpleasant at times, it is these struggles that make life great in the long run.
The world of Fahrenheit 451 is another world that could be considered a utopia, however its flaws are more readily visible than other stories that feature utopia societies that dissolve into a dystopian society as the story progresses. In the society portrayed in the book people lives are all about quick gratification and easy living, they don’t think for themselves or having meaningful conversations, rather they settle for cheap thrills like driving their cars far too fast and letting technology essentially brainwash them into confirmatory. The biggest thing that sets the world of Fahrenheit 451 apart from our world is that books are illegal and fireman start fires, not stop them. Books are burned to prevent the spread of ideas and keep society uniform. With this restriction of thought it’s easy to see why that is a world better left on paper.
Overall, while there are many great fictional worlds that I would love to visit there are some that I am certainty glad are safely contained on the pages of books.
-Angela J., 12th grade
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
Fahrenheit 451 was a required reading book for me in my English class. At first I was like, ugggh required reading, right? ‘Cause who gets excited when they hear “required reading?” But once I started reading this book, I actually found it really interesting.
Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which books burn. The main character, Guy Montag, thinks his life is swell and everybody’s happy and life is perfect. Montag is a fireman, and all he has known his whole life is firemen receive an alarm, go to the house that has been accused, find all of the books, burn them AND the house they were in. He never questioned books or if their job was right to do. Even though he has “everything a guy needs,” he still tells himself every day that he isn’t happy.
This story is basically about Montag finding himself and searching for the missing piece of his life. One day, however, a mishap of timing and an act of courage change Montag’s life. After that, Montag is fascinated by books and longs to understand the words on the page in front of him. I suggest this book to all teens because it really opens your eyes to how lucky we are to be able to freely and openly READ!!
Have you read this book too? Comment and let me know– I’d love to hear your thoughts.
-Kelsey H., 9th grade