This week I have began reading the book, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, I’m about 35 pages into the full 158 page book. . Which is a novel from the 1950’s about a dystopian future where free thought, emotion, and most importantly books are illegal. The main character, Guy Montage, works as a man who finds and burns the illegal books. These workers are called “firemen”, which is an ironic name because they are the ones that start the fires by burning the books they find. The title of the book refers to this burning of the books, 451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper burns. Guy Montage lives with his wife Mildred in a home with walls that are also televisions which are interactive, meaning they can see or hear what you’re doing 24/7 . His wife is completely enthralled in the tv programs that play daily. Montage, however, doesn’t watch them, and finds them boring and annoying. Mildred is the average person in this dystopian world, while Montage is quite the opposite. He is conflicted, he thinks for himself and is reluctant when burning his books, and even keeps one. This story is a very classic idea of what we think of when we hear the word “dystopian”.
These dystopian stories came around most predominantly in the late 1940’s through the 1950’s. This is of course due to the horrors of WWII and the holocaust. This story draws inspiration from this period of time very heavily in it’s social structure and laws. The act of book burning was an extremely common practice amongst the Nazi party. This loss of free thought from the German people lead them to blindly follow or die from attempted contradiction.
“Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge.”
This quote, I believe, perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of this world in the book. Everything Montage comes in contact with is falling apart or burning away. The only way to deal with it, for him, is to stand back separate himself.