What would happen to our society if we erased books from our lives
In the book Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury gives us his idea of a world without literature. A world where firefighters ignite flames instead of extinguishing them. Books are seen as a danger to society and in an attempt to perfect our world they’re banned. Television and radio replace books and people go to extremes to find their source of happiness and adrenaline, such as speeding down a highway going hundreds of miles per hour. The society in Fahrenheit 451 censors forms of entertainment in order to pursue their idea of a perfect society but sometimes these attempts hurt society rather than help them.
Within the society of Fahrenheit 451, society censors numerous activities and items in an attempt to perfect society. Many of which are chosen to be censored in an attempt to eradicate individuality and self expression. Books are outlawed within their city, and owning one can lead to jail and getting one’s house burned if one is unfortunate enough to get caught. Any house containing books will be burned in order to erase the evidence of the books from society. It also serves as a type of punishment for the residents living in the home and owning books. In the book Montag and his fire crew are called to a woman’s house because a neighbor suspects her home of containing books. They are quick to burn down and destroy books, they do not even take a second to evaluate their plan, “‘Kerosene!’ They pumped the cold fluid from the numerals 451 tanks strep to their shoulders. They coated each book, they pumped rooms full of it. . . ‘You know the law’ said Beatty. ‘ where's your common sense? None of those books agree with each other…. The people in those books never lived’” (Bradbury 35). In the book most people see books as unnecessary. They say that nothing in the books is real and that they all contradict each other. In their eyes rather than books expanding your imagination they just pump your brain with imaginary scenarios and lies. Along with books being outlawed self expression is also frowned upon and if acted upon individuals will be seen as threats and outsiders in their society. Clarisse is a unique individual in the books society; her and her family show each other affection, Clarisse sees outside the box and is able to question their societies' ways of life. Montag's occupation intrigues Clarrise and leads to her asking him numerous questions about his life as well as her views and ideas of society and what it could be if life was different: “How did it start? How did you get into it? How did you pick your work and how did you happen to take the job you have?... No one has time for anyone else. You're one of the few who puts up with me. That's why I think it's so strange you're a fireman, it just doesn't seem right for you somehow” (Bradbury 21). Clarisse points that Montag is different from the other firemen in society and that she doesn't understand how he is one of them. She sparks a feeling inside Montag of uncertainty that forces him to start questioning his occupation in society and their society as whole. This uncertainty allows the entire plot and Montags future to unfold. Which later leads to Beatty calling her a danger to society and an excuse of eradicating her from their world. Society in Fahrenheit 451 is closed off and allows no room for growth. Any outside opinions or forms of expression are seen as a danger to their way of life. They go to extremes to ensure the preservation of their society. Many do not even stop to question it but if they do they're silenced immediately.
Paragraph 2: (Do Wednesday 12/9)
Censorship can have positive and negative effects on any single person, Fahrenheit 451 sheds light on many of the negative effects. While they might think they’re building a perfect society, outsiders are able to see how negative the changes truly are. Many people are so sucked into their technology they do not see what's happening right in front of them. Problems go unnoticed and individuality slowly starts to fade. Montag makes the shocking discovery that him and every other fireman almost all look identical, something that took him years to see. Along with physical similarity he sees they act the same, think the same, and do the same things. He questions whether or not he is a fireman because he is fit for the job or rather he has been chosen because of his appearance. He sees every man has the same hair, eyes, and even act similarly to one another, “Had he ever seen a fireman that didn't have black hair, black brows, a fiery face, and a blue-steel shaved but unshaved look? These men were all mirror images of himself!” Bradbury (page 30). After taking a step back and looking in from an outsider's view Montag sees how controlled and consistent their society is. A big reason why Clarrise stands out as much as she does is because of this. Because even the slightest bit of individuality is unthinkable to the rest of society in Fahrenheit 451. Mildred was so sucked into technology she lost her ability to even carry out actions that a normal human being would do without thinking. Love, affection, and almost any emotion is foreign to Mildred because she is so drawn into technology and ignoring what is truly surrounding her. Montag says his wife is dying not physically but on the inside. He explains that society is draining her and that she's almost a robot. He even questions her ability to love him or feel any emotion similar to love. He starts to question reality and why he's with Mildred, as well as why she is with him. He asks if she loves him and asks himself the same question about her. ”she laughed an odd little laugh that went up and up. ‘Funny, how funny, not to remember where or when you met your husband or wife’” (Bradburry page 40). After Montag asks Mildred when and where they met Mildred is unable to find the answer. Montag is frustrated because he finds himself also unable to recall the time and place of their meeting. He goes on to express his frustration saying they've only been together for 10 years and at least one of them should be able to recall how they started. Mildred is just one of many citizens who have begun to lose their individuality and feelings. Many others run the same way, living the same lives, getting tied into a monotonous life with no excitement, nothing to look forward to and days that melt into each other until one cannot be told from another.
Although an idea may seem like it will lead us closer to perfection that's not always the case. Censoring activities and expressions may seem like a good idea on paper but can end up doing more harm than good. Although individuality may scare or confuse others, without it society wouldn't be what it is today. Self expression, different interests, beliefs, and ways of living are needed in order for society to work. Rather than seeing differences as a danger or being afraid of individuality we should embrace it and use it to our advantage in creating a better world for everyone.
Bradbury, Ray, and Neil Gaiman. Fahrenheit 451. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2013.