Fahrenheit 451


Ray Bradbury

I did not read the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury in high school or college but had a general idea of its contents. The novel does not disappoint. Montag is a fireman whose job is to burn books along with the houses of the individuals who possess them. Books have been banned because they cause people to think and to engage in dialogue, all things that are deemed to be a challenge to a civil society.

Montag has had a feeling that burning books isn’t the right thing to do. A few friendly discussions with an inquisitive teenager who lives next door begin to make him question whether he is happy and doing the right thing. At one burning, a woman slips a Bible into his hand and asks Montag to save it. Montag realizes that books must be special if people are willing to lose their homes and lives by secretly possessing them.

Montag decides to act. I won’t spoil the story for those of you who have not read the book or those who can’t remember. Suffice it to say that the meaning of this story is that all types of books, dialogue with individuals who hold different opinions and diversity of thought are attributes of a healthy thriving society and that we should be concerned when we are told we cannot express our ideas or seek to educate ourselves. Our constitution gives us these freedoms – it’s what makes our country special and Fahrenheit 451 is a stark reminder of what our society would look like without true freedom of speech, thought, religion and more. Might be time to revisit this important novel.