Monday, March 7, 2016

Fahrenheit 451: The degrees at which books burn.

Narrative: Guy Montag is a fireman, however, in this world firemen start fires, not to put them out. His job is the incineration of all books regardless of what materials they contain and Montag loves his job. He loved his job until he began to indulge in the forbidden pleasure of books. He soon finds himself at war with society and his role in it. 

Bradbury has done a superb job in effectively crafting his dystopian society by showing how it is maintained and the illusions used by those in power to keep the status quo. For example, during elections there are two parties, similar to the way the duel party system in the United States works. However, the candidate who is in favor of change is always obese, rude, sloppy and during the debate was picking his nose on national television. Meanwhile the conservative candidate was always a smooth talking lady killer who was polite, kind, and immaculately dressed. On paper there were elections, but they were so horrendously rigged that there was only the illusion of choice, even if they fixed the ballots no one would be surprised the liberal candidate lost. Next is the soul crushing sense of despair amplified by the denizens of the city. Montag’s wife tries to commit suicide via sleeping pills and her only passion in life is the “parlor TVs” that surround you while you watch to be part of the story, living a false life while you wallow in your own. Along with the teenagers who has such little regard for life they try to deliberately strike you with their cars. The very skies themselves drone with the mechanical brouhaha of bombers soring overhead in part of a looming war.  

The next most crucial part of the society was the ban on books. Books could contain seditious material or simple encouraged free thought. All books regardless of material, format or detail was torched by the firemen. The book was written during the 1950’s in which “Book barbecues” were surprisingly common place. Bradbury, as an author found this rather upsetting and disturbing. He wrote this work to advocate free thinking and to announced the dangers of censoring books or other works of media.

Montag who is at the helm of the societies effective censorship adored his job. Many dystopian works often have people on the fringes of society “looking in wards” while Montag was in the heart of it all, reveling in the pyromaniac work. It was only until he met Clarisse, a seventeen-year-old girl who asked “why” instead of “how” did he start to think on the causes of “why”. After this peculiar girl, she is suddenly involved in a car accident less than a week later, which causes him to question “why"  and even reads one of the books he is meant to burn in hopes of finding a solution to societies’ problems and his own. Yet, the most interesting part accurse when his boss Captain Beatty comes to Montag’s home and explain how much of an avid reader he once was. Beatty even had a dream where he and Montag did battle by quoting books.  But soon enough he grew to detest books due to their unpleasant content, facts that contradicts the government’s ideas, and opinions he did not agree with. So he chooses to silence their voices in a torrent of fire. This scene shows that all firemen, the ones who do the censoring, all read books at one point in their lives, have come to the concussion that burning is the correct path. This effectively shows how the censoring is protected and continues the cycle of incineration.  In our modern society, when someone who writes or speaks an opinion that does not agree with your own, we often have a discussion or write review works on them, no burn their works and silence their voice.

We should all take a page of warning from this work of art due to the growing militarism of our fellow students in our country. College is a place of learning first and foremost. However, with the growing incidents of silencing your classmate’s opinion due to not agreeing with them, the banning of books that have racial undertones, (et Mark Twain) or silencing a guest speaker who is too conservative. If you disagree with someone, get into an argument, just do not outright silence him like a proto-fascist. In short, in an age of growing censorship on college campuses and the rise of fascist type scare tactics used to push ideas, Bradbury’s novel shines like a beacon of fire in the darkness and serves as warning to the dangers of silencing all other opinions and ideals.

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