So I had decided to read Fahrenheit 451 a good two weeks ago, which seems like a long time to finish such a short book, I know. But you know me, reading more than one book at a time and with work and everything else, I can’t afford to read a book in a couple of days anymore. I actually finished reading the book a few days ago but only now had time to come here and write about it.
First of all let me warn you that I will talk about specific things in the book. If you don’t want me to spoil anything for you, go read the book first. Then you can come here and give me your opinion on it.
Still here? Great. Either you already read the book or you don’t mind spoilers. Anyway, Fahrenheit 451 is a book written by Ray Bradbury about a dystopian society in which books became obsolete. More than that, they are now something to be feared, and must be burned. I love that it was not a government imposition, but a natural consequence of a society that no longer value books; a society where information must be delivered in quick, summarized statements. People don’t want to think. People just want to believe they are happy. But does that bring them happiness? Is oblivion such a good thing? Is it preferred over having to deal with the problems around us?
I really enjoyed this book. How torn Montag, the main character feel. How he goes from going with the flow, just doing what he’s been told, drinking the Kool-Aid, to being a person who thinks about why things are the way they are. He goes through a crisis, trying to understand the reasons behind what they are doing and whether or not something can be done to change the situation. And at the end we have hope. Hope that not all is lost after all, that we will always have people who think and not just do what others tell them to. Hope that maybe one day everyone will be able to analyze things with critical eyes instead of blindly following the herd.
The story, by the way, was originally a short story that Bradbury wrote. Later he worked on it and let it grow. And Bradbury typed the book in a paid typewriter at a library. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, but somehow the image of a writer with a story in his head, a message, going to a library to type it all out using a paid typewriter, making every word count, makes me like the story even more.
Quotes from the book:
“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
“If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood. If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none.”
“No, no, it’s not books at all you’re looking for! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. 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.”
“Those who don’t build must burn. It’s as old as history and juvenile delinquents.”
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
“We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand years, and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, some day we’ll stop making the goddam funeral pyres and jumping into the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember, every generation.”