From the very beginning, Fahrenheit 451 was a gripping and fast-paced novel. It did not take me very long to realize that the plot is set in a future dystopian world. I had trouble putting the book down and quickly finished part one. Normally, I am not a huge fan of dystopian novels, but there is something unique about Fahrenheit 451 that grabbed my attention. In my opinion, such a book should serve as a warning for the future or an eye-opening reminder, not simply a horror story for entertainment’s sake.
We live in an age when technology is rapidly becoming more and more a part of our lives. It seems that we always have to be kept busy and entertained, especially in the case of our smart phones. Montag’s wife Mildred is very similar to people today, but she is more caught up in technology than we are because society provides her with easier and more intense access to technology. She reminds me of the sad number of people obsessed with shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians or Bachelorette; it seems that she knows a copious amount of information about a bunch of random people. The “Seashells” in her ears are described as thimble radios which provide an “electronic ocean of sound” (page 10) and maintain music and talk that come in on the “shore of her unsleeping mind” (page 10). What a frightening thought, that humans might get to that insane level of technological stimulation.
Another thing that stood out to me was the main character, who seems to be one of the few people who is not caught up in his obsessive society. He has been unhappy his whole life without realizing it until Clarisse McClellan asks him seemingly easy questions that get him thinking. What I find interesting is that only after many years does he realize how fanatical it is to burn books. I never would have guessed why people burn books in the novel, and the simple answer from the Fire Captain is that people in the past had trouble accepting some books such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, so they burned them to “remove their troubles.” To me, it is a ridiculous solution to destroy so much important historical knowledge just out of discomfort. But the mindset of the society in Fahrenheit 451 is that people should not think deeply or seek profound knowledge, but rather be content with simple information and just focus on sensual pleasure.
Fahrenheit 451 serves as a warning for our possible future. Even if the book has an extreme take on the future, it is not unfathomable that the world could become much more technology- and stimulation-based and consequently regress. So far, I have really enjoyed the novel, and I am excited to witness Montag’s discoveries as he explores the world of literature.