Warning, the following is an in-depth look at parts of Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451.' It may be interesting and informative to those who have read it, but it will ruin the book for those who have not! Proceed with caution.
The world created in 'Fahrenheit 451' is simple. There are no books, there is no thinking. The firema do not put out the fires, they create them. Books and the houses they are in are destroyed, and that is that.
Books create a lot of thinking, they create minorities, and they create sadness. Without books, and there have not been books in a very long time, there is only happiness. This is because, without books, there is nothing to think over. The world goes by so fast, with cars that have a minimum speed of 50 miles an hour, residents are plugged into TV walls with 'families' and have ear sets continuously connected to entertainment, news, music...
Books are illegal, they cause problems. Have fun, move fast.
This, to mean, sounds a bit like the world we live in now. How many young people actually sit down to read? Instead they're off having 'fun.' We're impatient even in our own lives. We need our cars to go faster, to get to work sooner, we have TV dinners, instant messaging, with a click of our mouse we've searched the Internet, and a press of a button on our remote control brings us a movie or a television show without us even having to try.
What about fun? In the book, young people are racing cars, getting killed, getting shot. How many nights have you sat in front of the news to hear about the death of young people, in their cars, in gangs?
And the book speaks of a country with war looming. We have MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, a press of a button and we've just killed several million people in a country thousands of miles apart from us.
And even today, we ban books, for what reasons? Say a nasty word, have a naked lady, get banned. Why don't you try reading some Young Adult Fiction, for a change, that stuff isn't spotless you know! And we've still taken books down a notch. We have e-readers! We read books on little screens and push buttons to turn the page and download classics off the computer. To me, that sounds unromantic and vulgar.
So now that you understand how similar we are to this world, let's talk about Guy Montag. Guy loves fires, he loves starting them, and he loves watching them. Well isn't he just like any other five year old boy? He isn't thinking, 'There's the alarm, it's time to go set a fire to books, to knowledge, to words that men took years to craft. Let's go destroy books.' He's thinking, 'Fire, yes, that gorgeous glow that eats everything, leaves nothing but black, sunken ash behind. Fire is power.'
Aren't we all sort of like that? I am a pyro, I'll admit. Need the candles lit outside? Give me the match. But I'd never burn books, or homes, or people, and that's what he's doing. Why? I think it's because he doesn't know any better. He has no knowledge, he knows what he's been told, and he just does it because he's going too fast and doesn't know enough to slow down. Also because his father was a fireman, and so was his grandfather, it's tradition, it's an honor.
Now Beatty, that's the chief, he's even worse. Even when Guy begins to realize, to understand, to become less of a robot, Beatty is till full fledged upon his ideas. Books are bad, that is all. If you have books, if you read the, you're a criminal. He even tells Montag, when he suspects the man is harboring books, that it's alright to make mistake, but burn the books now, burn them fast. He is not the dumb citizen who goes along with what he's been told, he's the leader of these ideas, he not only believes them, but he upholds them and fights for them, in the most horrific of ways; he burns books.
Mildred, Guy's wife, is one of those citizens that just believes what she hears, goes on with life, and plugs herself into radio transmissions through an ear piece and her TV walls, wondering endlessly when they can afford the fourth wall, and when the girls are coming over to watch a program with her.
Clarisse, she's seventeen and crazy, but she's the first one who pays attention to Guy, and he's the first fireman she's ever met pays proper attention to her. They intrigue each other, her him because she stops, the looks, she thinks about things he's never though of and they make him stop and think as well. Him her because he stops to listen to her, he regards her with curiosity, and almost awe-inspire respect.
The only book presented without fear is the Fireman's Rule Book. Of course, because there is no gray area, there is only what can be and what cannot be. No philosophical business here. No thinking.
Then here is the professor, a hermit of sorts, who doesn't trust very well, by the name of Faber. I don't know what to think of him, he only agrees to help Guy after he is threatened. This is one of the most consistant parts for himself, and for me, the reader, in this book. When Guy rips the pages from a book and crumples them into his hands the man finally crumbles, unable to bare it any longer, and agrees to help. Up to Part Three, where I left off, he is nothing more than a buzz in Guy's ear, advising him, no matter how much Guy seems to ignore his suggestions.
Guy seemed to be brazing the rules for the first time when he took home the book from the the house where the woman was burned. he seems change, enlightened, and this is his first offense... or is it? I am suddenly confused when he pulls out more books to show Mildred, a dozen or more, piles them onto the floor. Why does he seem so changed now, so determined to find and hide a book away, when he did it so many other times? At first this seems to be an emotional upheaval, but then you find that it's not the first time he's smuggled books home. I suppose with all the attention to the one book had me believing this was his first time, but then when I found it wasn't, the mood did not seem as romantic as before.
And then comes the end, the part where I leave you. Guy returns to the fire house, prepared to do his duty. Beatty is not his friend, he is his enemy, although the chief may pretend otherwise. He laughs, he picks, he jokes. Guy turns over the book he'd been holding, in less than twenty-four hours, as asked, and is expecting for the matter to be suppressed. Instead he is called a fool, and told that nothing good will ever come from reading books. He tosses the book into the trash.
The alarm sounds, Guy suits up with the other men. They drive to the house and Guy steps out, sullen and silent, and then he looks up:
" Beatty was watching his face.
"Something the matter, Montag?"
"Why, " said Montag slowly, "we've stopped in front of my house. "
Having never read this novel before, I was so pleased that the place where I would stop for my first half of the read along post was so mind-blowing. Even though it's a short read, well, look where we've come. The dedicated fireman from the first page is not a guilty believer in books, and now stands before his home, realizing that he is the suspect, his books are to be burnt. I could say I'm terribly clever, but I'll just say it was luck.
This book is familiar to me because of how I could point to my own reality and see the similarity. It's incredibly depressing to see what has happened to books and life in 'Fahrenheit 451.' While the rest of the book remains to be read, I can't say what I am anticipating. So far it's been interesting, and I can only wonder as to the result.
Don't forget, there's still time to join the read along! This is a very fast paced, easy to read book. I read the first half in one day, and the second half isn't due until the end of the month. This is the perfect book to jump into half way, so please consider joining in!
As always, as if I need to say it, I'm looking forward to your comments and questions! Happy reading, :D