Fahrenheit 451 is Ray Bradbury’s first novel. He is normally a poet so the wording and diction of the novel come across with a poetic tone that is simply beautiful. The book deals with the social aspect of literature and media. It follows a firefighter, Guy Montag, who is tasked to burn books in a futuristic dystopian society. The reason being that books are illegal. Guy has a sudden realization and has to confront his moral standing on the law.
Montag begins pushing himself further and further into questioning the law. He eventually watches a woman decide to die in her house (which they are burning for her illegal possession of books) and decides that there must be something in books that is worth dying for. Montag eventually gets caught, runs away, and joins a secret society of people who remember literature.
The book addresses important issues about the power of literature and the censorship of them. This is particularly striking due to the relevancy today as more and more of the world leaning more toward technology instead of traditional forms of literature. This issue is posed in the book as part of the gathered exposition, and has led to the outlawing of literature in the world that Bradbury created.
The book also talks about the numbing power of technology on the world. The people in this society are holed up in their houses watching TV programs and always listening to some form of entertainment when not in the room. (We also see the firefighters playing cards, but the majority is technological based entertainment) This technology has made the people socially capable, but less observant and thoughtful of the rest of the world. The book addresses this by presenting a juxtaposition between Faber, a lovely old man who indulges in literature, and Guy’s wife, Mildred, who only indulges in technology. Faber is thoughtful where Mildred is dismissive and unintelligent. This issue is particularly relevant because of the recent controversy over technology being harmful for children.
His characters are pretty well rounded and make very human observations and decisions. Such as Guy, Beatty, and Faber.
Guy is what one might consider as the protagonist. He is the focus of the story and is the focus of the arc. Guy struggles between fear and curiosity throughout the whole story. This makes him more relatable and easier to empathize with while still understanding the reason of his actions, being that he grew up in this society and has no way of knowing better.
Beatty is the antagonist (government and censorship) manifested into a person and Guy’s boss. Beatty is smart and is aware that Guy is struggling with his moral decision to follow the law or defy it. Beatty serves as a source for tension and intimidation. He is complex and relates to Guy during Guy’s hardship. This makes it hard to predict his motives and reasoning.
Faber is cowardly and timid. He serves as a help to Guy, even in pressing times. Guy confides in Faber about literature after overcoming his moral conviction and Faber tries to avoid him. He is static, but puts himself on the line for Guy when it matters most.
The book kept me awake at night and forced me to keep going back to read more or re-read certain passages. The language is captivating and entrancing, yet also demanding the upmost attention. I would definitely suggest this book to anyone who enjoys poetic diction, unpredictable plots, and socially relevant narrative.