Fahrenheit 451


Discussion Topics

1."We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against." (p.59)

Are we all truly born equal? Should we be? If trying to level differences, shouldn't something be done about differences in intelligence? On the other hand, aren't differences in intelligences healthy for competition?

Second, how does one judge intelligence? Social psychologists perceive intelligence as encompassing a wide range of factors. There are differences in social intelligence, emotional intelligence, financial intelligence, and other capacities of the mind. Should these qualities be categorized as "intelligence," too? Are they learned or innate? If they are innate, then shouldn't these differences in "intelligence" be leveled, as well?

2. "People want to be happy, isn't that right? Haven't you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren't they? Don't we keep them moving, don't we give them fun? That's all we live for, isn't it? For pleasure, for titillation?" (59)

Is the purpose of life happiness? If it is, what if the goals of happiness contradict? In Fahrenheit 451, for example, citizens gained pleasure by driving over sentient beings. These same creatures, on the other hand, no doubt, felt unhappy in being killed. Whose happiness takes precedence? As another example, parents in the story took little pleasure in extending themselves for their children. Observed Mrs. Bowles: "They'd just as soon kick as kiss me. Thank God, I can kick back." (96). The children surely would have preferred to have been treated in a respectful, altruistic manner. In the final analysis, whose happiness is more important? Who is the one that should suffer, and who should be the one to benefit? How does one decide, and what measures are used to do so?


Sign up to continue reading Discussion Topics >

Essays About Fahrenheit 451