Fahrenheit 451

Chile_quema_libros_1973Fahrenheit 451 brings up a new perspective on censorship. The censorship of books. This form of censorship comes in the most real way as burning books theoretically eliminates them forever. To bring up a point Meaghan made today, “isn’t it ironic that we are reading a book about burning books?”

While the main aspect of Montag’s life is censoring books, I also found that his life, and the lives of others, was censored as well. The first example is when Montag meets Clarisse. He realizes that he was simply wearing his happiness as a mask. By doing so, he was censoring his emotions.  The truth is also censored, as Beatty admits in regards to the fireman’s job, “Well, I’d say it really got started around about a thing called the Civil War. Even though our rule book claims it was founded earlier.” Why does the rule book lie about the beginning of the fireman’s modern job? Is this just a way to justify what they are doing? I do find this point to be quite ironic, as they are burning books, yet the firemen have rule books of their own.  The final form of censorship I would like to bring up is the censorship of education. By getting rid of books, they took out philosophy, history and language. Eventually spelling was neglected and ignored. To me, all of these forms of censorship came directly from the burning of books. Emotions possibly by the lack of communication that happens when Mildred, Montag’s wife, cares more about her “parlour family” than her own husband. The truth, comes from the burning of historical documents. With those gone, no one would know the truth as it was back then, only the new fabricated truth that “they” want us to know. (Who is “they” anyway?) The censorship of education comes from the lack of teaching literacy. These children in school simply pull thoughts from their head, rather than writing them down and making some sort of meaning from them.

Our discussion in class today in many ways brought up more points from the book. The point was brought up that the world in books isn’t real, which is also a point Beatty brings up when the firemen burn a woman’s books, and burn the woman with them. Is that justifiable? It was also argued that the fantasy in books can create a sort of escape when one is unhappy, which goes directly against the idea that books make people unhappy, which is stated in the book. When we think back to Mildred’s suicide attempt, is it fair then to say that books make people happy? Mildred must have been unhappy to some extent to attempt suicide, yet isn’t her “parlour family” the ideal in that society?

The idea that a world without books makes people happy seems to come from what Beatty told Montag later in the chapter, “It didn’t come from the government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.” Is this a fair assumption? Are they the people who burn book because of the truth that they want? Do they fear one another to such an extent that they hide their emotions? Are they the generation who fear the next generation to such an extent that they “dumb down” education to an extent where no one really thinks anymore? Or are they simply misguided?

We may not burn books yet, but we hide emotions, we fabricate the truth, we tend fear those who are smarter than us. While this may not be true for every individual, I find that main aspects of this book almost “predicted” the future, the future of our REAL society.This is a real life example of books being burned in Chile. Are we becoming the society, or are we already the society, that has been presented in Fahrenheit 451?

This link may not be 100% accurate, however I find that it relates quite closely to this text, and to our recent discussions of censorship.

7 thoughts on “Fahrenheit 451”

  1. I think that the reason the origin of firemen was lied about was less to justify what they were doing than it was to keep up the illusion that what they were doing is right (I realize it seems like there is no difference between the two reasons; I’m getting there). The firemen (except Guy Montag now) do not need justification. They believe that what they are doing is right. The lie about the origins is simply to keep it that way, because they do not want people to get wise, because then they might reject the censorship under which they are forced to live.
    Also, not to be picky, but was Mildred’s almost dying really a suicide attempt? She took an entire bottle of pills, but does not remember doing so; she may have, as Montag suggested, taken two, forgot, took two more, and kept going and going.

  2. I agree with Meaghan, I think the firemen have these book is to give them a reason to burn all the others. It doesn’t matter that information in them is false it is just to give them the satisfaction in knowing that what they are doing has a purpose, or to show them that even important historical people were doing the same things they are. Most of them need to know why they have to burn all the books, some of them may even question how the books are doing any bad.Which is ironic because all the bad is coming from their instruction books.

    1. I agree with Andrea in that the books, with the false information of the origins of the fireman, mains purpose is to give satisfaction to them so they know what they’re doing has a purpose. It also shows that this was done way in the past so it seems like they are continuing this job and keeping up with history. It is very ironic that they are burning books however they have their own instruction book on how to do this. This might justify to them the importance of their job so they can do this.

  3. I’m not sure if I agree with you on the fact that the things that happened in this text are predictions of what our “REAL society” will be because we are technologically advancing so quickly that we have a population of extremely smart individuals. Yes, the younger generations may not be as smart due to the fact that we rely on calculators to do simple math, play video games too often, and are exposed to stupid media, but we are also moving in a direction away from pens and paper and towards computers and technology. For example, Cushing Academy in MA completely got rid of their library on campus and replaced it with EBooks, which are electronic books found on tablets. I don’t think we are dumbing down society, I think we are just moving towards a different type of society.

    1. I agree with Jessie that this text does not predict what our real society will become. To say that technology is dumbing down our society would not be completely accurate. As Jessie said, the younger generations use tools to do simple tasks, such as basic calculations, but technology helps us improve society on the grander scale. Advancements provide the tools we need to cure diseases and find dangers to our country.

  4. I like the point you made about the relationship, or the lack there of between Montag and Mildred. There is very little communication between the two and Mildred seems way more caring and loving to her “parlor family” then her actual family. This very well could be a result of the censorship of books. Mildred clearly lacks the intelligence and communication skills that come from reading books. This lack of communication also stems from the fact that books were taken away from education. Language is very important and it was stressed in all of my past education. All of the language that I have learned and picked up on is a result of books that I have read. Without books, the people in this book are lost when it comes to communication, (i.e. Mildred and Montag’s relationship).

  5. I like how Danny mentioned that books teach language and communication and therefore, without books, there is no communication either. I feel that Mildred and Montag’s relationship just represents society in this book as a whole. Their relationship is used to show the disconnect between different members of society at this time, as well as how the absence of communication will affect the success of society, since their relationship is a failure. Also, I agree with Meaghan’s point that Mildred’s overdoes might not have necessarily been a suicide attempt. However, I think that either way it was used to confirm the idea in Montag’s mind that something was wrong with society and that he was not as happy as he once believed he was, since it seemed even for just a short amount of time that someone close to him was unhappy as well.

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