No reader can dive into this book without having any expectations about its message, power, and how it can change the world. Ray Bradbury wrote this book 70 years ago without knowing that today, the story and criticism were as accurate and relatable as ever. With a gloomy tone and chaotic events, Bradbury’s novel denounces how entertainment and the constant looking for “happiness” can drive the mind numb and the people blind.
Bradbury creates a dystopic world ruled by an oppressive government whose oppression is reinforced by the fireman, once a symbol of hope and salvation. In this world, humanity is blinded from understanding and knowing what is happening around them. Through television, drugs, lack of education, and lies, the civilians are under control and in constant surveillance. Happiness is the final goal, and asking too many questions will get you killed.
Inspired by WWII and the atrocities carried by the Nazis, Bradbury brings to the table the power and consequences of knowledge and the repercussions of what burning books mean. The concept of burning books is fundamental in a repressive society, and the act of burning them is a strong statement of censorship, control, and fear from the political forces since:
“ Governments don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests. They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and just dumb enough to passively accept their situation. ”George Carlin
If one starts to break down the characters and events, one can trace down all the detonators of Mustang, the main character, and how he starts to open his eyes and see the truth. Literary speaking, the novel is rich in symbols starting from fire, the fireman (mainly the juxtaposition of fire as an element to warm up and as an element of destruction), and the forgettable mind of humanity. Interestingly enough, the novel also gives importance to the oral tradition of telling stories and passing knowledge, without knowing Bradbury confirms that audiobooks are books and count as reading.
As relevant as ever, Fahrenheit 451 will stay as a reminder that humanity will be driven always by fear and war. How the people in power, either politicians, conservatives, or religious groups will ain to censure and keep people without knowing better because who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?
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