Many societies have strategies to encourage the reading culture. With the advent of the Internet, reading has taken a new meaning. It is easy for students, scholars and any other reading oriented people to access books online without the fussiness associated with going to the library. Both physical and e-libraries have lots of reading materials with information on various subjects that attract people according to their interests.
Part of the most captivating reading materials ever written fall in the fiction category. Novels have come to represent the very best of man’s imagination. Though most of their content is fictional, novels have storylines closely reflecting the life people lead on the Earth. They seek to portray the good and the bad of the human race within various contexts as the setting permits. One of such books is Fahrenheit 451, a 1953 dystopian novel written by Ray Bradbury.
In Fahrenheit 451, a riveting story unfolds through the book’s story line featuring a fictional future society, probably the American one, where reading is outlawed and a ban on books is imposed. Authorities effect the ban through burning books mainly carried out by firemen.
When reading the novel, it is easy to agree that reading culture and freedom of expression of one’s thoughts through reading and writing is under threat of media such as television. Above all, the book reveals that people have become their worst enemies concerning reading and censorship and that the culture of ignorance and carelessness is taking its roots. To put it simply, there is an acute loss of intellectual thought in the society.
Reading Fahrenheit 451’s provides a perfect revelation of a confused society at war with itself. Guy Montag comes home to find his wife overdosed and a new neighbor who reminds him of the unfulfilling life he leads. Despite participating in books burning, Montag is still not sure why he burns books as evidenced by his stealing of one of the suicidal woman’s books.
In fact Montag has a pile of books collected from the victims of book burning carried out by firemen. An argument with his wife about what to do with the stolen books opens Montag’s eyes and he realizes his disgust for society. Montag realizes society’s pretense of happiness when he reads a poem from one of stolen books which makes one of his wife’s friend cry despite maintaining a “happy” life picture throughout her life (Bradbury 23).
The madness of the society’s onslaught on itself reaches the epitome when Beatty, Montag’s chief at work, orders him to burn his house. Probably from all the events, a dispute develops between Montag and the Beatty the chief fireman. A war situation breaks out and incineration of cites in the country takes place, a clear reflection of the permeation of confusion in the human society.
A close analysis of Fahrenheit 451’s themes gives the reader the perfect view of the explicit machinations of the state in promoting censorship and flow of information. It is easy for a reader to see the blatant indictment of censorship as promoted by the state. The firemen are on government payroll and their work is to impose a ban on books.
Through the book, the current situation in the world concerning censorship clearly comes out. It is easy for any reader to find the current world situation concerning censorship and media gagging through a subtle and close reflection of what the book insinuates. But, even more interesting is the precise reflection of the effects of television on society especially concerning reading the literature.
One of the interesting insinuations in the book is the portrayal of people as their own enemies. There is a blatant disregard of each other among human beings, an alienation culture mainly fronted by the media.
In Fahrenheit 451, Mildred, Montag’s wife is a clear representation of the current world which is likely to turn into in future thanks to the media. Mildred and her friends spend most of their time watching television walls in the “parlor” intentionally ignoring the problems around them till the problems get out of control. There is the only preoccupation for them which is the program schedule.
Clarisse helps Montag realize that what he is doing is wrong. Within that context, her character represents the voices of the reason that still exist in the chaotic world, the voices that still question the goings on in the society despite the different obstacles that exist (Bradbury 47).
Fahrenheit 451 is definitely an every reader’s book with very infectious quoted and thought provoking imagery which explicitly puts the role entertainment, especially television, lack of concern for each other and the casual attitude which has come to characterize the modern world.
The fact that the events occur in America, though fictional is stark reminder that repression is through book burning and is a serious event which can take place even in the most advanced society. Any reader will find it very interesting especially through the discovery that most of the hatred that is presented in the book comes from people themselves.
Reading Fahrenheit 451 is incomparable to any other work of the same genre. Any reader is sure to experience firsthand a 1950’s prediction of the world in the 21st century.
People have become slaves to their television sets and the internet, people don’t bother to ask the root cause of all the crises and armed conflicts that have become characteristic of the 21st century, there is avid promotion of violence which children access through video games; the drug problems are spiraling out of control.
Reading the book provides a deeper understanding of Montag, the main character and the ways in which he represents the average person in the world today. Burning of books and incineration of cities is a symbolic representation of the problems that bedevil the world mainly through entertainment enslavement.
In nutshell, the book acts as an eye opener and helps in comparing the current society to the Montag’s society where TV reigns as a supreme authority. Additionally, life is fast and all people tend to think they are happy while in the real sense, they are not. The real picture of what people are going through comes out through the suicide attempts. It is, therefore, easy to recommend Fahrenheit 451 as the book with the true reflection of the society people live in nowadays.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print.