Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is a novel from the american author Ray Bradbury. It has been published in 1953 in the US ; it is part of the literary genre of dystopia (unlike utopia, dystopia offers a pessimistic vision of the future). The title refers to the auto-ignition point, in degrees Fahrenheit, of the paper (equivalent to 232.8°C). It is the temperature at which any substance or material ignites spontaneously in the absence of flames. This novel was written in the context of the Cold War between the United States and the USSR. It was a period of tension with the threat of nuclear war and the rise of communist ideas. Here is the story :

Just imagine. A futuristic world where the books have disappeared. In this society, reading would be considered an antisocial act because it is a source of questioning and reflection.The role of firefighters would no longer be to extinguish the fire but to light it. Indeed, they would be responsible for burning the books, the possession of which is prohibited for the collective good, as well as their owner’s house. “Classes are shortened, discipline neglected, philosophy, history, languages abandoned, English and its pronunciation gradually neglected, and finally almost ignored. We live in the immediate future. work, so many distractions to choose from. Why learn anything but push buttons, plug in switches, tighten screws and nuts? »

Guy Montag, the main chracter, is a firefighter. He was convinced he was doing good before he met his neighbor, a young woman named Clarisse who is very quick-witted. He begins to question himself following this meeting. He had never read books and was not in the habit of asking questions. This fireman however begins to dream of a different world, one that would not banish literature and the imagination in favor of an immediately consumable happiness. We follow this man’s awareness and the upheaval it will bring in his life throughout the novel.

Ray Bradbury describes a world riddled with overcomsumption, self-centeredness and lack of culture; a world where, despite everything, people live happily ever after, drinking from TV series and sporting events. He also stages people who go beyond this pattern, for more realism and authenticity. One might wonder why books should be banned. Indeed, when you think about it, reading allows you to forge your own opinions. This totalitarian society has found the solution : abolish books and thus, the freedom of thought. The worst part of all this is that to avoid asking too many questions, the population makes herself stupid with the television. Plus, the banishment of books has been smooth.

This book is well futuristic but it allows us to question our current society. Books are increasingly threatened by infantilizing and mind-numbing screens and games. People are becoming more and more superficial and are losing their taste for culture. This book is a novel of anticipation which reminds us the importance of freedom of expression and which denounces the brainwashing (thanks to the TV) and the authoritarian excesses of our society.

I really liked this book because, as an avid reader, i can’t imagine my life without books. I don’t even imagine that we can ban them because it would be a real attack on freedoms. So, to prevent the Ray Bradbury scenario from happening, let’s keep reading !

I would like to share with you a quote that really impressed me and made me think : “‘Stuff your eyes with wonder,’ he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic that any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that,’ he said, ‘shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.’” 




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