The smell of burnt pages fills the streets as fire burns along the sidewalk, with black, charred paper filling them. Knowledge, the key source to choice, is being erased by the second. Where are the firefighters? They are the primary cause of the fires. The only way to survive in this society is to fit in, retain the knowledge from yourself. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 will leave you afraid. It’s hard to put out the burning fuel inside this blazing novel.
Fahrenheit 451 takes place in a dystopian society, where people are forbidden free choice. The story begins slowly as it introduces the main protagonist, Montag, who works as a firefighter. His job is to rid choice from his society by doing the exact opposite of what a firefighter should do: He starts fires to burn books.
Montag takes orders from his boss, Beatty, and lives a simple life with his wife, Mildred. This story takes place in a future where everything is new and improved, with walls that are TV screens and TV parlors that interact with you. The society is so futuristic and advanced that when Mildred overdoses on medicine, there is a machine that pumps the drugs out and replaces her blood.
In Fahrenheit 451, society is both the savior and the enemy, but this all changes when Montag meets Clarisse, who is living in the past and has not given up on everyday activities like running in the rain or dancing in the sunshine. She sparks a rebellion within Montag, giving him the power to be unique. As he begins to read the books he is supposed to burn, he discovers the powerful knowledge within them and is forced to run. Montag is leaning the past and diving into the future.
Bradbury’s style makes this novel engrossing. With his detailed descriptions, you can see what’s happening as if it’s a movie. For example: “With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history.” This detailed style will leave you hooked. Bradbury’s long sentences weave a story that will make you think.
Bradbury wrote this book in 1953 to express his hatred of technology and futuristic ideas. Currently, 50,000 copies are sold each year. Inspired in part by Hitler’s burning of books, this book has won countless awards for its portrayal a dystopian society.
Run for your life and be prepared to be swallowed by the heat of this blazing novel.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.