The Burning of Books in Fahrenheit 451, a Dystopian Novel by Ray Bradbury

Books and fire never go well together. Afterall, books are made of paper which is flammable as tinder for fire. But in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, books are the bane of their futuristic society. Firefighters are supposed to put out fires but in Fahrenheit 451, firefighters start fires, burning down buildings that house books even with the inhabitants inside. Books, a valuable asset to our society since the day history was written down, are a taboo in Ray Bradbury’s fictional world because they allow people access to knowledge.

In a world controlled by the government and knowledge is forbidden, Montag has found other ways to maintain his sanity and mind. His wife, Mildred, rarely spoke and her replies were abrupt words that often repeated like echoes.

People like Montag’s wife, Mildred, are ignorant and vacuous. They are mindless zombies, forced to be equal and fit into the same idealistic aspects. He got frustrated often and left the house or stayed at work longer when he couldn’t explain to her that “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” (Bradbury 51).

The theme of isolation is present within the novel as it is portrayed through Montag’s loneliness and inability to relate with anyone else. It must be dissatisfying to unable to relate or talk to with someone. To be ostracized for thinking different, I bet at least everyone has gone through that once, including myself.

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But that was quickly put to an end for Montag as nobody other than high schooler Clarisse could understand. Even she, a fleeting character who spoke to him once about how society changes, played a supporting role to help recuperate his loneliness.

Today in our time, it seems like media is taking over our lives as well with technology present everywhere. Everything in their society was about moving. Cars were driven faster, kids learned nothing and only played sports, and society in general progressed very slowly. Because of civilians driving faster, billboards stretched from “twenty feet to two hundred feet because cars started rushing by so quickly they had to stretch the advertising out to make it last” (Bradbury 9).

This quote was significant and surprised me that people would go that far to change the billboards themselves, not the speed. This book heavily correlates to our own modern society. It’s as if Bradbury really did predict the future. Instead of government issued “Seashell headphones” that constantly played music or the radio even when sleeping, we have our smartphones where our eyes would be stuck on for hours from the first thing every morning and the last thing at night. I noticed how relatable and eyeopening this novel was as I kept reading.

Just like 1984, readers who enjoy or are interested in governmental control dystopian novels will like Fahrenheit 451 as well. Although things just got started building up the climax in Part One: The Hearth and the Salamander, I will continue to read this book as it made me realize how valuable books are now, digital ebook or physical paper copies. Knowledge is an important asset of any society as the foundation. Even if “they’ll come in and burn me (us) and the books” (Bradbury 68), I would keep still books. Everything started out as something, an idea, intangible or not. And for the rest of the firefighter in the novel, they should hopefully return to their intended jobs as firefighters, not firestarters.

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The Burning of Books in Fahrenheit 451, a Dystopian Novel by Ray Bradbury. (2023, Feb 19). Retrieved from

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