Summary of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is a novel by Ray Bradbury. The novel is set in a American city in the future. In this society people no longer read books, think independently, spend time by themselves, enjoy nature, or even have meaningful conversations. They now watch excessive amounts of television, drive extremely too fast, and listen to the radio on Seashell Radios (sets are attached to their ear) at all time. They have become shells of people. Not only are people just shells, but the United States has started and won two atomic wars in this society. Our protagonist, Guy Montag, is a firemen and the meaning of firemen has changed greatly, now instead of putting out fires firemen start fires in homes of people who have books. Throughout the book Guy questions what society has told him and begins to read the forbidden books. Guy eventually has to go on the run after killing his boss. At the end of the book, Guy encounters a group of intellectual who memorized books, as they are leaving the city it gets bombed by enemy jets.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is how he saw the future folding out in front of him. During his life he saw the cold war and all of its effects, he saw the invention of the television and its effects. He took his life and the time period and created the worst case scenario and made it it a book. Fahrenheit 451 is not just a book it’s what Bradbery feared would happen if the world continued on this path. Fahrenheit 451 is a prediction, it’s major themes such as censorship, war, and television are all directly influenced by Bradbury’s life experiences and the time period he was living in. CENSORSHIP The first major theme in Fahrenheit 451 and what the whole book revolves around is censorship. Ray Bradbury saw censorship in its many forms happening in the 1950s and based the plot of his book off what he was seeing, in the real world.

In the 1950s America just ended World War II and was about to start the Cold War. During this time America went through a phase where they saw a classes society and anyone who thrented this premise was censored. The biggest item to be censored during this time was literature. If a book led to a wariness of difference, of dissent; almost any criticism of the status quo could be interpreted by someone as an attempt to subvert the “American way of life” (CITATION), and once that book was deemed unacceptable it was banned. America went through a phase where anything that could offend someone or someone’s beliefs became banned. Ray Bradbury illustrates perfectly in his book, what would happen if we let this censorship get too far. Not only is the public censoring books, but with the invention of the television and its integration into homes, censoring became even easier. People believed what was on the television and could easily influenced people to believe in a certain ideology. Ray Bradbury feared the worst when it came to television he was quoted The television is ‘real’.

It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It must be right. It seems so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest, ‘What nonsense!’. (Ray Bradbury) He was terrified the world was going to become conforming non-thinking citizens, and that is what he illustrates in Fahrenheit 451. FAhrenheit 451 shows readers how terrible censorship and mindless conformity is. Bradbury uses artificial stimulus, such as the television and the radio, to show the reader how isolated the public is and how their minds are being controlled by this government of the twenty-first century. It’s what Ray Bradbury feared the most, so he showed the most extreme example in Fahrenheit 451 to scare people. An example of censorship and the effects of television in Fahrenheit 451 is, the three-walled television in Guy Montag’s living room. His wife, Mildred, watches TV all day and soaks up all the mindless programming and propaganda being fed to her. She has lost almost all of her short-term memory because of this. In one scene Mildred is asked about something that happens in a TV show she’s watching and she cannot remember what is going on, even though less than a few minutes have passed. She also displays this behavior when Montag asks her to get him some aspirin when he has a headache. After she leaves the room, she returns without the aspirin and any remembrance of Montag’s request.

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