Is it about censorship? Perhaps a critique on society as a whole? Does paper actually burn at 451 degrees Fahrenheit? One can say much about the possible meanings and interpretations of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. It suffices to say, regardless of the interpretation, that Fahrenheit 451 is an enduring novel and will continue to be so well beyond any of our lifetimes.
Fahrenheit 451 centers on fireman Guy Montag. Firefighters in this realm don’t put out fires, instead they burn houses down. Specifically the burn down books and houses and people that contain them. Guy Montag navigates this world in a daze and when he is awakened from the haze the world around him is an ugly thing. The events following Montag’s enlightenment are perhaps Bradbury’s critiques of society at large.
Calling Bradbury’s style “plain” would do it a severe injustice but he was able to express in plain sentences what other writers would explain in terms of “indescribable feelings” and the like. There is a beauty in the work that seems hidden or otherwise embedded in the text that a reader could only hope to pry out on a first read. It is only after a thorough simmering that one might be able to delve deeper.
Each character serves a purpose in painting ailments of society. This review will refrain from mentioning them for fear of giving away plot, but it is enough to say that even the characters were created to be an emblem for types of people.
Below are noteworthy quotes:
“Do you see? Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there’s your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries or more:
“Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”
“The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.”
“To everything there is a season. Yes. A time to break down, and a time to build up. Yes. A time to keep scilence and a time to speak. Yes, all that. But what else. What else?
Ray Bradbury’s work will continue to enchant its readers and encourage literary conversation for years to come. And it in thinking of all that happened within the book I think that above all, Bradbury was trying to get readers to discuss, analyze and interpret and because of that, he was wildly successful.