Fahrenheit 451 Response
In Ray Bradbury’s, Fahrenheit 451, a suppressive Government shapes society from a world of “why” into a world of “how”. They do so by ordering the burning of books. One might ask, “What exactly does this mean?” In a society that asks “why”, one is curious as to the purpose of something more than just the basic functions of “how” something works. Captain Beatty fears that widespread book reading will result in a great unhappiness driven by “why”, and that burning them is the only solution. Montag and Beatty discuss the meaning of this. “She [Clarisse] didn’t want to know how a thing was done, but why. That can be embarrassing. You ask Why to a lot of things and you wind up very unhappy indeed, if you keep at it” (57-58). The Government perceives this so-called unhappiness as a direct result of reading books. Clarisse read books so she was deemed unhappy, when in fact she was quite cheerful. Books make you answer “why” instead of thinking simplistically, and that causes the unhappiness. In Montag’s society, it seems the word “intellectual” does not exist because of this. Initially, disputes arose between different minority and special-interest groups regarding the content of books, so people began to stop reading them themselves. That being said, the Government wants all books to be burned in accordance with this, yet it has gotten to a point where those who keep books are nearly considered enemies of the state. Beatty states that books and weapons parallel one another. “A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?” (56). Beatty tells Montag that a man who has gained knowledge from reading a book is as dangerous as a man holding a gun. It is the knowledge gained that leads to individualism, and when there is individualism, everyone will not be the same. After all, what his society strives towards is...
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