Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fahrenheit 451 is a must read classic and an original dystopian novel. Ray Bradbury, who just recently passed away, was a prolific science fiction writer with over 500 pieces published. Fahrenheit 451, one of many celebrated books written by Bradbury, focuses on Guy Montag who is a fireman. The twist is that he starts fires rather than put them out. He is charged with the duty of burning books. For years, Montag has burned books. He says, “It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.”
One day, Montag is called to burn the books of Mrs. Hudson. She refuses to allow her books to be set on fire. She would rather die than lose her books. Haunted by Mrs. Hudson’s convictions, Montag collects a few of the books that have been saved by the fire and takes them home. He begins to read them in secret and his perspective on life begins to change. Fueled by his growing dissatisfaction of his profession and the meaninglessness in his life he seeks out a man named Faber. Montag once gave Faber a light charge after being caught with books. Ironically, Faber and Montag agree to copy an old salvaged Bible to save its contents from being destroyed.
The book is separated into titled sections that seem to represent the changes in Montag. Censorship is the most prevalent theme of this story. It seems the government and society does not want information to reach the people. The only information comes from media that seems to suggest radio and TV. Amazingly, in Montag’s home, he has a room where three walls hold screened TV, and his wife cannot wait until they can afford to have all the walls covered. This is surprisingly similar to the huge flat screen TV’s that current society has in every room of their homes.
Another theme is knowledge versus ignorance where Montag was happy with his life before he was bestowed the knowledge of reading. It is impossible to put the knowledge aside once he has it in his possession. It changes his beliefs and his life.
The writing style Bradbury incorporates into Fahrenheit 451 is a more formal style than what people are familiar with today. Published in 1953, the novel is often used by high schools and colleges. Francois Truffaut wrote and directed a film adaptation of the book in 1966, and it is available on DVD.
This novel’s themes are relevant today for it seems that many of Bradbury’s visions of the future have materialized in society. Thoughts and musings on these themes will haunt the reader long after he or she has finished the novel. Read this book!