In “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, owning and reading books are forbidden. In the society that Bradbury created, the books are seen to be the source of all unhappiness and should be prohibited. The protagonist of the story, Montag, is a fireman. By burning books, the firemen eliminate anything that is controversial and make people think. As the story progresses, he starts to change his attitude toward books and realizes that there are something inside the books that might change way people think. The story speculates on the future society in which there is no real knowledge, people just sit around watching TV all day and there is no meaning in life. There are three main themes in the book that Bradbury tries to express, the liveliness and deadness of people in society, the importance of literature, and the pitfalls of technology.
Throughout the novel, Bradbury presents a contrast between characters who are alive and those are dead. At the beginning of the book, Montag meets a girl called Clarisse. She is truly, perfectly content with her life. She is curious about things that surround her and never stops thinking about the meaning behind them. “I like to smell things and look at things, and sometimes stay up all night, walking, and watch the sun rise.”(7) No one else in the society takes time to think and observe of things anymore. However, unlike them Clarisse always pays attention to the things around her and looks at them. Instead of watching TV at home, she decides to go for a walk and see the beauty in life. Her innocent mind is full of energy and curiosity in life. “I tell them that sometimes I just sit and think…I like to put my head back, like this, and let the rain fall in my mouth. It tastes just like wine. Have you ever tried it?” (23). She takes great notice of nature and enjoys life by trying things that interest her. She is curious about things that she thinks are odd while others don’t have time to look, think and appreciate things in life. By telling Montag her experience about life, she is trying to open his mind and invite him to think. “You’re not like the others. I’ve seen a few; I know. When I talk, you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night. The other would never do that. The other would walk off and leave me talking.”(23) She points out to Montag that maybe he is different from others since Montag takes time to look, listen and acknowledge what Clarisse says to him. She is a person who truly enjoys the meaning of life. In contrast, Mildred, Montag’s wife for ten years, is a miserable woman who lives an unhappy and empty life. “Complete darkness, not a hint of the silver world outside, the windows tightly shut, the chamber a tomb world where no sound from the great city could penetrate. The room was not empty.”(11) The lines describe the room where Mildred lives. Her bedroom is likened to a tomb and a mausoleum, dark, cold and airless. She closes the window because she doesn’t want moonlight to get in the room which is the opposite of what Clarisse wants. The bedroom represents Mildred, who has sealed herself from the outside world. In the story, Bradbury describes her as “a body displayed on the lid of a tomb,her eyes fixed to the ceiling by invisible threads of steel, immovable.”(12) Mildred is almost like a dead person with no emotion and feeling. Her life is empty, meaningless and filled with hours of mindless TV. She is mentally dead inside her mind. Also, she doesn’t recognize her own dissatisfaction. “I wouldn’t do a thing like that. Why would I do a thing like that.”(19) She has no interest to talk with Montag as she trying to refuse to admit she attempted suicide. She is unhappy and finds her life meaningless just like a dead people. The story creates a huge contrast between liveliness and deadness of two people. It illustrates that the people who read books and think like Clarisse in the society are full of energy while the people who only watch TV like Mildred are empty inside and live a meaningless life.
“Fahrenheit 451” argues that literature is something that people need to enrich their mind and to make their lives meaningful. However, in the world of “Fahrenheit 451”, books are forbidden. Reading and thinking have been considered a threat to the government. The descriptions of two people, the old woman and Faber, makes Montag realize how important books are and the impact they might have in the society. The old woman is the one who influenced him most about books . She is afraid of her books being burnt. “The woman knelt among the books, touching the drenched leather and cardboard, reading the gilt titles with her fingers while her eyes accused Montag.”(35) Even at the last minute, she still can’t leave her books since books are everything she has to fulfill her life. Her saying “I want to stay here.”(36) shows her unhesitating determination to burn with the books. “The woman on the porch reached out with contempt to them all, and struck the kitchen match against the railing.”(36) The woman impresses Montag with her passion with books. Through the woman’s action, Montag realizes that books are very important to her since she would rather die with her books than living without them. “There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”(51) Montag knows something goes wrong. Books are the reason why the woman tries to stay in the house because they are essential to her. Faber is an English professor who encourages Montag to read books. “We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren’t happy…So I thought books might help.”(82) Montag expresses his unhappiness to Faber and guesses the real reason that causes his problem has a connection with books. “It’s not book you need, it’s some of the things that once were in the books.”(82) He tells Montag that it’s not the books themselves that he is looking for. It’s the meanings that they contain, and these are the things that the “parlor families” can not project. Later, Faber says “Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality…To me it mean texture. This book has pores. It has features.”(83) He gives Montag a clear explanation of the meanings of books. Books are full of life. Through reading you can experience different thoughts and argue within your mind. Faber tells Montag that unlike other media preferred by the majority of people in the society, books are the only ones that offer meaning. “Number one, as I said: quality of information…the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two.”(85) Faber points out the three necessary things they need. He explains to Montag the importance of literature, its role in shaping one’s outlook, and its meaning for humanity. Since reading is a process to learn and think and it takes time to digest and absorb new knowledge. Books bring people lives and thoughts. This is what Bradbury tries to tell us in the book.
why books are so important to Bradbury ,to the women and Montag
In Bradbury’s novel, technology starts to become a main influence on the actions of the people in society. Mildred, Montag’s wife is one of the victims that has lost herself in technology. She confines herself in the living room with three wall-TV parlors. “No matter when he came in, the walls were always talking to Mildred.”(44) Here it demonstrates how little human interaction is between Mildred and Montag. These walls speak to her and make conversation with her more than her husband does. Though Mildred is his wife, together they have no true feeling towards one another. Without interaction, emotion and passion are almost non-existent. “‘Will you turn the parlor off?’ he asked. “That’s my family.”(49) She cares more about the fictional programmed characters than her real husband and thinks of them as her only family. The new technology in the society is making people far away from each other. There are lots of characters that live in TV that can chat with you so that people don’t need to talk to real person. Ray Bradbury demonstrates how the rapid growth of technology will lead to the demise of tradition and a world with little emotion. “The televisor is ‘real’. It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in… It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest.”(84) Here, Faber gives an example of a media that takes up all people’s time. People like to watch TV because they are immediate. They advise you what to think and make all the conclusions for you in a rush so you don’t even have time to progress. TV gives out all the truth so that people can never argue against it. Those people in the society are thoughtless because they never try to think and understand whether the things they’ve seen in TV are right or not. People believe that if technology gets too advanced it would end society and people would probably forget about everything because they don’t take time to think and remember. In this book, Bradbury thinks that the development of technology such as TV parlor will dominate our society in the future and do all the thinking for you. He suggests that people should not just depend on TV, we should have our own thinking and