Fahrenheit 451


Plot Summary

Fahrenheit 451 is the science fiction tale of an unspecified time in the future when firemen burn books instead of saving buildings because technology has become so smart that buildings no longer need to be saved, and literature has come to be considered threatening and seditious. The only books worth salvaging are comedy, lighthearted fiction (such as romance novels), and trade journals. Civilization is characterized by the giddy pursuit of frivolity, hedonism, and social detachment, as well as by greed, cruelty, and aimless existence. Seashells inform the citizens of the operations of the city, and huge TV screens occupy entire walls where "images" take the place of families and provide an incessant flow of entertainment. Temporary "operators" have taken the place of professional and caring medical care and, in an attempt to prevent the citizens from experiencing the pain and labor of thinking, all serious literature has been banned.

The government, has also decided to censor books due to the difficulty of trying to please a growing spectrum of minorities, including:

dog lovers, cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. (p. 57)

Furthermore, books—and the academic profession as a whole—threatened the basis of democracy, since academia divides the population into intelligent and less intelligent individuals. ("Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally 'bright,' did most of the reciting and answering while he others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him" (ibid)). In order, therefore, for an atmosphere of democracy to be sustained, all differences had to be eradicated, and the way to do this was by discouraging academia and thinking as a whole. A crusade, which occurred a number of generations prior to the saga of Fahrenheit 451, set about ruthlessly to prune education. This...

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