Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

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Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury

Science Fiction,179 pages

I thought Fahrenheit 451 was a good book to start Banned Books Week. The story describes a future society where books are forbidden and firefighters are required to burn all books they encounter. The title refers to the temperature that paper burns. People don’t have their own ideas and don’t discuss what they feel, instead their life revolves around picture walls (television screens) that become their family. One firefighter, Guy Montag, begins to question what are inside the books and why others want them burned. He meets a girl who tells him in the past books weren’t burned and people weren’t afraid. He also meets a professor who tells him about a time when people think. Montag’s fire captain states that without books there are no conflicting thoughts, so it keeps people happy. Montag joins others in the hopes to preserve knowledge and ideas in books.

A futuristic society where books are forbidden is scary and unfortunately it occurs. Perhaps not as bold as burning a house that holds books and written material, but just the act of challenging or banning a book creates a threat that individuals cannot think freely. It’s not possible to make everyone happy, since we all have different ideas. When you shut books you are then shutting minds that creates ignorant people in a society where they can’t think fully for themselves.

Montag’s viewpoint at the start with burning books:

   It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. …He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparking whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.

– Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)

Montag’s viewpoint gradually changes after meeting the girl and witnessing a woman stay in a burning house with her books.

     There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.

– Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)

Professor discusses the power of books with Montag.

     There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.

Reasons for being challenged:

Fahrenheit 451 was never exactly banned, but the book itself was censored into different editions to please others. Words, such as hell and damn were eliminated. Another incident changed a drunk man into a sick man. An interesting twist occurred in 1992, students at a school in Irvine, California, recieved Fahrenheit 451 with blacked out words that others thought were inappropriate. Parents complained and the censored copies were no longer used in the classroom.

References:

Banned Books: Literature Suppressed on Social Grounds by Dawn Sova

100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature by Nicholas Karolides, Margaret Bald, and Dawn Sova

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

    Dayle Fraschilla said:
    September 25, 2011 at 6:19 am

    It’s fascinating in a twisted sort of way that a book about book burning has been censored and challenged. Kudos to the parents who complained about the censored books!!!

      Caroline responded:
      September 25, 2011 at 8:15 am

      I thought I was reading it wrong and checked the info again, since parents are the main people who challenge books. It’s funny how Bradbury claims that he had no intention of Fahrenheit 451 being associated with banned books. Thanks for the comment.

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