Farenheit 451 Essay, Research Paper
“Fahrenheit 451–the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns…” (1). Greeting readers as they study the title page, this quote immediately intrigues the readers, even frightens them as they realize the rather fiery and explosive nature of the novel. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, written in a frighteningly barren futuristic setting, explores an era in which there are no books or newspapers–they are burned, and those who still possess the forbidden material risk imprisonment or even death.
Guy Montag, the chief character of the novel, is a middle-aged, partially brainwashed fireman. In the era of book, instead of putting fires out as firefighters once did, he actually starts the fires, burning all banned material and the edifice the books are housed in. With a face permanently marked with black streaks of charcoal and a constant perfume of kerosene clinging to him, Guy’s meager life is changed when he meets Clarisse McClellan on a street corner at night. Clarisse introduces herself as “seventeen and crazy” (11), having been instructed by her uncle to add insanity when telling people her age. Enraptured by the world and questioning everything in it, Clarisse becomes a constant companion to Guy, who is starved for attention, having almost no friends and a drug and TV addict for a wife. Clarisse presents Guy with little trinkets while accompanying him to and from the train station, prattling incessantly about the way the world used to be as told to her by her uncle. “I heard once that a long time ago houses used to burn by accident and they needed firemen to stop the flames.” (12). As Clarisse continues to open Guy’s mind to the world that surrounds him, he begins to realize just how insane it is to burn books. His insanity is brought to peak levels with two events–the death of Clarisse and the burning of a woman, who refuses to abandon her books when the firemen come to destroy them. Guy goes undercover and connects with a man named Faber, a former professor who now lives in seclusion, fiddling with electronic devices and itching for literature to occupy his mind. Faber and Guy go undercover to exploit the sadistic plots of the firemen, and when Guy is discovered, he suddenly becomes a fugitive on the run from police, the city, and an evil mechanical thing known as “The Hound.” Guy’s fate will not be revealed, yet his rebellion is a triumph in a world where once intellectual minds are persecuted and idleness along with a new age of television cultivate the country’s minds into mush.
Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, has been writing since he was young, beginning with a sequel to a science-fiction book he read, written because he couldn’t wait for the sequel to come out. He has written short stories, novels, plays, poems and non-fiction. When asked about his mind-set when writing this novel, he said that he was “trying to prevent the future, not predict it.” Originally called The Fire Man, Fahrenheit 451 was written in the garage of Bradbury’s house, finished about 8 years after it was began.
A frightening world in Fahrenheit 451 is revealed, a world that could easily become the only thing people have known. In the seemingly crazy and unfeeling time of the book, the message that there are some brave enough to stand against heartless firemen and ruthless killing machines to save what they know is vitally important to the prosperity and existence of the world is revealed, giving inspiration to anyone who sees their own crusade as hopeless in the face of many nearly unstoppable enemies. But within Guy’s fight, there is one thing that remains: hope, and a love for something that has been portrayed as meaningless trash, containing nothing worthwhile for the minds of people. The real truth, however, is that without books, more damage is done–with each book burned, a piece of someone’s mind is incinerated as well. Only when the majority of minds have been scorched will the power of books be revealed, a power that will suffocate the flames of the ignorant. “To everything there is a season. Yes. A time to break down, and a time to build up. Yes. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”(167).