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Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
Member Name: darren55
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
Advantages: A complex novel with many facets
Disadvantages: Complex and disturbing
Fahrenheit 451 is a science fiction novel set in a future dystopian America written by Ray Bradbury and is classic of the genre. The books title is the alleged self-ignition point of paper and follows the story of a fireman called Guy Montag, however, in this world a fireman starts fires rather than puts them out. The fireman are employed to burn any books designated as being dangerous, ownership of a book is outlawed and discovery of a book means that the house with the book and the owner is burnt down. The book follows the travails of Montag as he starts to doubt the reason for burning books and the people who own them, he accidently reads one line from a book in which the owner self-ignites herself rather than give the books up to the flames of the firemen.
The rest of the novel follows Montag as he starts to observe cracks in the system he was until the start of the novel so passionate to maintain. He feels sick when he smells kerosene; he worries over the state of his marriage and wonders of the need for the endless censorship of the written word which has produced a bland uninteresting literary world. Eventually the book takes an apocalyptic finale and ends with the world changed forever.
There are clear similarities between Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, both reveal a world of censorship and repression where independent thoughts aren't desired and the government is all powerful. There are clear echoes in the recent Hunger games trilogy, again a dystopian America dominated by a media powerful government controlling the population by the media they are allowed to interact with. In this novel, we have one of the supporters of the society questioning the why and for what the government was protecting the people from. Eventually we see through Montag's eyes that the problems are the words in the books but the suppression of the books themselves, with that revelation we then see the start of rebellion and free-thinking.
I do love a bit of dystopian parallelisms, here we have a modern America but not one we could ever recognise, an America which suppresses and controls all literary outlets and takes extreme actions to ensure the stability of the government. This is a recognisable world however we have hints that the change occurred in the recent past as Montag mentions that the grandfathers can remember a time without book burning suggesting an event 40-60 years earlier changed everything. The precise causal effects leading to the firemen, book burning is not revealed but is thought to be a process of slow change rather than a sudden change after a seismic event in America's past. So we have the suppression of the greatest books in human history, the bible has been ruthlessly mainstreamed and now gives a very different story to the one we know, Shakespeare's works have been reduced to a paragraph or a sentence rather than the full works and Dickens books are only remember for their titles.
This is a disturbing book, Montag is depicted as going a bit mad during the telling and as everything we observe goes through him then we view a complex and diverse mind going into a place few would desire to visit. He laughs at odd things, he's happy, he's unhappy, he doesn't know what to make of the desire to own something he's been burning for years. All brilliantly told but disturbing none the less, this is only a short story in truth but it packs a punch and leaves the reader thinking that he might have missed things during the first reading.
Summary: A complex piece of science fiction writing