Fahrenheit 451 is an intriguing book that shows a wise insight into a possible, and quite probable, world of tomorrow. It follows a man named Montag who in a fire man, however rather then put out fires his job is to burn books and the people that try to read or write them. The Country of the United States no longer values education; in fact it seems the entire purpose in life is to be ‘ignorant and happy’. The logic being when you are ignorant of bad things, sad things and the truth that you are happy. To give a view into what they live their lives like when they aren’t working most people are in a room called a parlor with every wall being a screen showing different programs, even interactive TV where you play one of the parts of a show. Parents no longer raise kids but send them to massive boarding and conditioning schools or plop them in front of a screen and never talk to them, one woman in the story even admits to not have talked to her children, who are barely 12, for almost 7 years.
Books are forbidden, the penalty for owning a book is death, immediately no trial or anything, you just get killed, burned alive with your books.
Executions are broad cast on the TV screens in parlors like it’s some game.
Happiness and ignorant bliss over reality, controlled by technology and ease of access, the world portrayed in the story is not all that different than what our world is becoming, people don’t want to read and see things that make them unhappy, they want it censored. And in fact, what they hear is being censored, look up something on Google, or Bing, or some other search engine, you will get censored and tailored results off of you search history, what you will like and what will make you happy, ignorant.
In fact, just the other day I was explaining filter bubbles on the internet to someone I knew, and they said they liked the idea of filter bubbles, they said I quote “Yeah I’d rather hear what would make me happy then what is actually happening”.
I connected with this book so many things I see happening in the real world around us, I hear adults talk about how their kids are such a hassle so they just have them watch TV all day, don’t eat dinner with their children etc. I grew up playing with my older brother and mother and grandparents, eating dinner EVERY night as a family and growing connecting, my parents have been my greatest point of support so to imagine a world where all that is frowned upon? In all honesty it scared me.
Now why am I getting so worked up over the book? Simply because of how Ray Bradbury has crafted his words, sculpted them into a vivid image that strikes fear of what may come. How he describes the ignorance of people and their want for an easy life over a real life, to stay inside all day rather than go out and work and experience life, I can’t attempt to describe it as he has.
In the story he makes people seem so low, so stupid and incapable to think for themselves that they listen to orders that come from a screen showing a person they’ve never met named ‘Uncle’ from a group called the ‘family’.
Of course there are those that avoid the burning of themselves but read books, memorize them and share them, live a life out in the plains and forests, along the railways, intellectuals and teachers and librarians thrust from society for their knowledge, Montag meets these men, becomes one, because he to realizes that why do we just go through life? Why are there so many unanswered questions? Why do we burn books? What is the danger of knowledge? Why when a world war looms over their heads to people not realize they are in danger but think it’s going to be fun?
He meets a young girl early on in the story named Clarisse McClellen, she talks about gardening and her family, they resemble a good natured family from today’s world, together, united, laughing and experiencing life, Clarisse collects and draws leaves, enjoys asking questions, a little girl, not even in her teens is portrayed as wiser then the majority of the population! However she unfortunately dies, hit by a car while in the front yard, this is the beginning of Montag’s realization of the ignorance of people, her death could be seen as the final straw, the end of innocence and ignorant bliss for Montag.
Faber, an old college professor, helps Montag, tells him to read and learn, tries to help him make books, teaches him how to ignore all the loud propaganda and lure to have a happy life rather than a real life.
Yes the world of Fahrenheit 451 is not a world I would want to live in, ever. For I would rather know ever y pain of this world then be ignorant, the truth hurts yes but without the truth, and the will to think for ourselves all we are in the end is mindless drones, going about a daily grind, smiling stupidly, thinking everything is perfect, while shadows creep up on us, until its to late to stop them, that’s when we notice them.