To censor is “to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable” (Merriam-Webster 1). Censorship is practiced to protect people from controversial topics in books, whether it be violence, substance abuse, or religious views. This seems like a beneficial thing to do for the youth of society, however censorship can end up doing more harm than good. In this story, these restrictions are shown as a way to heal society, but is only further destroying it.
In Fahrenheit 451, censorship is a result of and assisted in people becoming too attached to technology. This made many people unsociable and unwilling to communicate with others. Mildred is a very strong example of this, and she shows this pattern of behavior throughout the book. She believes that the TV people are her family, and doesn’t care about anybody but herself. She then tried to kill herself by overdosing on sleeping pills. In a society that wants everybody to be happy, she is depressed, and she doesn’t want to admit it. Beatty can also support this idea. He tells Montag that the growth of technology resulted in books becoming simpler and shorter, until they started to be burned.
The censorship of books in Fahrenheit 451 also contributed to the distortion of Montag’s society. Teenagers are killing each other for fun, which can be partially due to the ignorance of the society as a whole. While our society suffers from similar violence, it is not as extreme as it is in Montag’s world. As the main form of censorship, firemen were burning books, and in order to do so, set fire to homes. This is very much unlike our society, as firemen are there to put out fires. Because these books were being burned, the people were uneducated and lives simple lifestyles. They did not have books to learn from, but only technology to make them happy. The youth in our society is more drawn toward technology than books, but are not ignorant and simple like everybody in this story. The United States is also at nuclear war with the world because everyone in the county are well-fed and have money while there are others in the world that are dying daily from starvation and are in poverty. In our world, poverty and hunger are things people struggle with, but they are problems in the United States as well, so we do not face the same reality Montag’s country does.
While our society doesn’t neglect and burn books out of ignorance, censorship is still used in the form of banning certain books. Many parents don’t allow their young children to read violent books, which is normal and practical, but banning books from high school students is a different story. Teenagers are more mature than seven year-olds, and so are able to read more complicated and can handle more controversial topics. There’s no use in shielding teenagers from things they will learn and possibly experience soon enough. Adults happening around them daily. It’s better to have young adults that are educated and aware of these things than not. Making teenagers unaware of their surroundings is only going to end up hurting them when they grow up and can see it happening. Many of these kids are already experiencing some of these things, like violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or even racism. You can’t cover this up and lie to kids about the things they know about and struggle with. Reading about the problems of people in books can also help teenagers later in their lives. There are books that are banned for things like suicidal content and LGBTQ content. Many teenagers can relate to and also face the internal struggles of characters, including depression. Other people deal with addictions to drugs or alcohol, and reading about other people with the same problems can help them get through it. As the world changes, kids need to be made aware of society around them, and all it involves.
As depicted in Fahrenheit 451, censoring information and knowledge doesn’t always carry out its intended purpose. While it was designed to help people, it can end up doing the opposite.
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