First off, it is important for any readers to know that I personally did not start reading this book with an open mind and a fair point of view. Beginning my summer vacation, I was ready to relax, sleep, and read some quick page turners. Fahrenheit 451 was not the ideal choice for me. However, by the end of the book, I decided that I was never going back to anything on my reading list. The amount of precision that was put into this book astounds me. Without once describing the setting or the town in which the main character lived, I would easily be able to navigate their streets. The main focus of the book is not a single, one-dimensional plot in which every event in the story is black and white, plain and simple. When an event occurs in more trivial, simple, quicker and easier books, the message that the writer is trying to send to the reader can only be interpreted as the same thing, no matter how it is read. This is one of the key factors in separating Fahrenheit 451 from many other books. Throughout the story, the main character is faced with the classic “man versus self” type of story. However, the dystopian future setting creates a unique situation where our protagonist must fight against the people he respects and loves. All with little to no confidence in himself. Even when hiding, fighting, and running away from his problems, he is not completely sure he is doing the right thing.
The book takes place in a future where houses have becoming completely fire-proof. However, the occupation of a fireman is still highly respected and well known. The public has been dumbed down by screens and media, courtesy of the government. Books, one of the greatest inventions of mankind, have been outlawed. Much like the Holocaust, books are gathered and burned. However, unlike the Holocaust, the books are burned at the source. In the owner’s homes, not in public. And it is the firemen’s job to take care of those fires. Hoses filled with kerosene instead of water, the firemen climb into their big red fire trucks and light houses ablaze, often with the occupants stuck inside. These acts are considered attempts to “create a more peaceful world” where each person has the same level of intelligence. This way, no one will feel bad about not possessing as much intelligence as the next person. Since people cannot simply become smarter, the solution became “dumb down the smart people so that they won’t get picked on by the dumb ones”. This is similar to the quote “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. The main characters wife is one of the less intelligent people in the world and spends most of her day in front of her “walls”, devices similar to the computers, smart phones, tablets, and flat screen televisions that are in our homes.
One of the most interesting parts about this novel is that it was written in 1953 and yet our society is proving all of his predictions to be true. In the story, the fire chief explains to Montag that people slowly became increasingly lazy. Reading two minute articles on books and plays instead of reading the actual material. Eventually, people gave up on reading. Why read books when there are movies that take a tenth of the time. Today, websites like Sparknotes give you a detailed summary of a book in about ten minutes. Ray Bradbury’s predictions from over sixty years ago are becoming true even today. Cheap entertainment is becoming standard. Our world is becoming theirs. I don’t believe in prophets but Ray Bradbury has nailed our generation to a T. Finding similarities between our world and his fictional one is not a difficult task and so the ever present fear of the future ending up similar to the one in the book has scared me personally. Overall, I would give Ray Bradbury a pat on the back and a “congratulations” on writing about the modern day, over sixty years ago. Complex characters, plot, and an interesting and new dystopian topic intrigued me and I believe it has earned its 9 stars.