Fahrenheit 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 The truth, comes from the burning of historical documents.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?