The book starts with this sentence:
"It was a pleasure to burn!"
And I asked these questions;
Can you think of a more effective means of control?
Can you think of a more effective means of Well, me neither .
I didn't intend to start reading it. I really didn't. Somehow it seduced me into it.WOW AND I THOUGHT OKAY THEN LETS DO THIS! I glanced at the first page and before I knew it, it was 1:00 in the morning and I was halfway through with the thing. It's really good! No wonder it's a modern classic.
The burning of books is such an effective tool, so the message of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is scarily real; if society’s wisdom could be taken away then so could their freedom; if knowledge was burnt then the people would be left in a complete state of utter innocent ignorance. That way they could be told anything and no know different. If all books were burnt then they are just sheep to be lead. To make it worse the men who do it enjoy it.
Montag's inner emotional and moral journey from a character who burns books gleefully and with a smile on his face to someone who is willing to risk his career, his marriage, his house, and eventually his life for the sake of books is extremely compelling. That this man, product of a culture that devalues reading and values easy, thoughtless entertainments designed to deaden the mind and prevent serious thought, could come to find literature so essential that he would kill for it...! Something about that really spoke to me.
It raises the question: why? What is it about books, about poetry, about literature that is so essential to us? There is no doubt in my mind that it is essential, if not for all individuals (although I find it hard to imagine life without books, I know there are some people who don't read for pleasure, bizarre as that seems to me), then for society. Why should that be? Books don't contain any hard-and-fast answers to all of life's questions. They might contain great philosophical Truths, but only subjectively so -- there will always be someone who will argue and disagree with whatever someone else says. What one says, another contradicts. So what, then, is their allure? What is it that made Mildred's silly friend start to weep when Montag read the poem "Dover Beach" aloud to her? Where does the power of literature come from?
I think the reason that books are so important to our lives and to the health of our society -- of any society -- is not because they give us answers, but because they make us ask the questions. Books -- good books, the books that stay with you for years after you read them, the books that change your view of the world or your way of thinking -- aren't easy. They aren't facile. They aren't about surface; they're about depth. They are, quite literally, thought-provoking. They require complexity of thought. They require effort on the part of the reader. You get out of a book what you put into the reading of it, and therefore books satisfy in a way that other types of entertainment do not.
And they aren't mass-produced. They are individual, unique, gloriously singular. They are each an island, much-needed refuges from an increasingly homogeneous culture.
I enjoyed Fahrenheit 451, but this is the thing that scared me the most. This book gave me 1984 vibes where you can only know what the government wants you to. How terrifying is that? Being able to learn whatever you want or read simple stories is a simple privilege that should be taken advantage of. Can you imagine a world where you can’t learn? In this story, burning is done for the a political agenda. Knowing about history could provoke revolution in the future. In theory, it’s a smart idea for a dictator but utterly terrifying.
All in all, Fahrenheit challenged me and made me think, stimulated me intellectually. We could all do with a bit of intellectual stimulation now and then; it makes life much more fulfilling.
Though seriously, if someone came to burn my books I’d kill them :)