Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury

I am not sure how I did it, but I managed to make it to 41 years old without having read this book. Unbelievable. My high school students could not believe I had not read it and challenged me to read it over the summer. My book club chose it for our August read and I can’t wait until we meet to discuss it.

I think I liked the book so much because I read it in Ray Bradbury’s “future”. The book was published in 1953, written during the era of McCarthyism, just after Hitler’s burning of books in World War II and at the beginning of the nuclear arms race. It addresses how society has become listless, uninvolved, self-centered and drugged by the media. It is illegal to own or to read books. Firemen, instead of putting out fires, set them, to destroy that which could destroy society. Montag, the main character is a fireman and happily goes about his business, until he meets a young girl, Clarisse. Clarisse is considered quite mad because she refuses to submit to the restrictions of society. When she suddenly disappears, Montag begins to see his world differently, even stealing books from fires and reading them.

Ray Bradbury’s “future” really is so much like our present. He alludes to the Ipod, big screen TVs, the importance of the media, reality tv, wars no one really pays attention to, high use of medication, and the lack of importance on education. As I read the book, I realized he could be talking about us. While we don’t burn books and it isn’t illegal to own them, there are so many people who self-censor themselves by simply choosing NOT to read. To ignore the knowledge and ideas of others. To ignore the past, when we could learn so much from it. To ignore the beauty of words and instead feast on the abbreviated, abridged drivel of movies and television.

There is still a lesson to be learned from Fahrenheit 451 – society is a reflection of what we allow to happen. The importance of education, including self-education, is critical to the growth and development of both ourselves and our society.

Rating - A+


  1. OK. Now I just need to read this, too. That's scary that he's pretty much pegged our present as his fictional future. Going to turn off the news now.

  2. This is fascinating -- now I want to read it more than ever.

  3. Der - You are going to have one heck of a "to be read' pile before long!

    Laughing Stars - You will LOVE it. Please read it soon, so I can hear what you think.