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Free Study Guide: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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FAHRENHEIT 451 CHAPTER SUMMARY

THEMES
There are several important and related themes that are developed throughout the novel. By describing the damage caused by a lack of books or knowledge and by an over dependence on technology, Bradbury’s purpose seems to be an attack on such conditions before they occur, hopefully to prevent them.

Major Theme
The major theme of the book is Bradbury’s attack on censorship. In the futuristic society he portrays, the government has banned the reading or owning of all books and the accumulation of any knowledge. As a result, the citizens have become nonthreatening, non-interesting humans who can be easily led and manipulated through fear. Even though the society that Bradbury depicts in the book is very extreme, there is a clear statement about the danger of any kind of intellectual censorship.

Minor Themes
Closely related to the theme of banning books is the theme of conformity. The government has disallowed the accumulation of any knowledge, from books or other sources, for it does not want any one person to be smarter than the other. If everyone is exactly alike, stripped of knowledge and interest, they will pose no threat to the dictatorial government in charge.

Bradbury also weaves in the theme of the corruption caused by excessive reliance on machines rather than humans. Since everything in this 24th century society is done through automation, humans have lost the ability to do even the simplest of tasks. Apathy and ignorance are the norm amongst the citizens and they pass their time watching boring television, programmed by the government, and taking pills to make them sleep and temporarily forget the miserable state of their existence. Some of the machines are described, and they are frightening. There is the Mechanical Hound that relentlessly pursuits and...