Book Review: Fahrenheit 451: by Ray Bradbury (165 Pages Paperback)

Posted: October 20, 2012 in Books

 

Guy Montag is a content man, he is a fireman in a futuristic America.  Firemen in this America burn down buildings, they do not put out fires, these firemen burn down buildings.  Why would they do that?  Because in this America, reading books is illegal as ordained by the government, and anyione possessing books is subject to having their houses burned down by the likes of Guy Montag.  Guy is content to burn down houses and be fed the givernment line that ideas are dangerous and conformity is a must,why not? he’s living in a big house, with his heavily medicated wife, Millie, with all the modern coveniences, who needs human company when the walls talk to you like human beings?

 

Guy is happy until he meets Clarisse McClelllan, a 16 year old girl who seems to enjoy actually thinking about things and talkingto her uncle about the way society used to be, about dew on the grass, the beauty of lowers and rubbing a dandelion on your chin as a sign of being in love.  All of Claisse’s powers of observation have landed Clarisse in therepy, for being a non-conformist, of course, and then just as suddenly as they met, Clarisse is gone, Montag thinks she’s been killed.  The killing of Clarisseshakes Guy,as does the image of his wife getting her stomach pumped because she has overdosed on pills, but he carries on with his job, but his confidence in what he believes is shaken.

 

Guy continues his work as a fireman if somewhat warily.  Then during one job, the firemen burn down an old lady’s book collection except this time the old lady does not leave the house, and instead she burns with her books.  This rips Guy’s preconceived notions of who firemen are and what they do, from thir moorings.  Now Guy was not only buring books, he was burning people.  He was an accessory to murder.  The idea that kept occurring to Guy was, are books worth dying for?  He had to find out, so he took a few books from the old lady’s house, and started missing more and more days of work.  Increasingly, Guy likes reading and hates being a fireman.  But Guy knows that what he is doing is dangerous, he is starting to hatch a plan, but he needs help.

 

Guy calls an elderly professor named Faber, who he was investigating,  and asks him if they can meet.  Faber is naturally suspicious but agrees to meet Guy.  Guy tells Faber his plan, and Faber is cheered by Guy’s transformation.  Guy is now a hopeless romantic about the idea of saving books, Faber approves of his plan, and is more than willing to help.  .  Guy is fully aware of the dangers of hs newly found knowledge of and from books.  His boss, Captain Beatty has taken note of Guy’s oddly erratic behavior and warns Guy to knock off whatever he’s thinking or planning, or the consquences from his actions may be dire.  Guy keeps on planning, but then does something foolhardy, and when captain Beatty calls Guy for his next job, what does Guy do when the Guy and the other fireman pull up to Guy’s house?

 

This is a fantastic book, the word prescient comes to mind.  Bradbury forsees a society so afraid of offending people that words and ideas are no longer debated or thought through, offensive words are just burned from existance, replaced by magazines full of meaningless pap, and happy talk and technology that replaces real coversations, with talking walls in the parlors of people’s houses.  There’s a war going on,and people decide on Presidential candidates based on how the candidate looks or what his name sounds like.  People have gotten fat, happy amd dumb in this Ameica.  This might have been written 56 years ago, but Bradbury might as well be talking about society today.  Most people can tell you more about American Idol, than about the Presidential campaign.  Television is made to reach the lowest common denominator, and people use computers to look up useless trivia, or play mindless games.  I wondered about the ending for a long time, and then it made sense. First ideas die, and then the society dies from a lack of ideas.  Farehnheit 451, is a book about ideas and the power of the written word, it even incorporates the oral tradition of the pre-written word.  This book is jam-packed with so many thought provoking ideas, it’s hard to believe that such a small book can contain so much.  Not a word is wasted here, no idea is left undeveloped, and the endiing is perfect.

 

Fahrenheit 451.  Set your mind ablaze with this book.

 

 

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Comments
  1. yogachickie says:

    Great review!!

  2. Thanks, yogachickie, I tried to read all the classics we never read in school, and realized I had a lot of reading to do. 🙂

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