Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reading: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury was a sort of hidden author for me growing up.  I knew he was there yet I never read any of his work.  Then one day, in my senior year of high school, my teacher had us read a short science fiction story he wrote.  I don't remember the title but I remember I loved the story.  The descriptions and writing was incredible.  I wanted to read more of Bradbury's work but unfortunately I got caught up in other things.  I knew nothing about this book, Fahrenheit 451, when I sat down to read it.  All I knew was that there was a time in my life when I read a story by Ray Bradbury and it touched my life in a small way.  I hoped to recapture that moment by reading this novel. 
Since I knew nothing about the novel, I found it hard to understand in the beginning.  Fahrenheit 451 centers around a man named Guy Montag who's job is to burn books.  He is a fireman but not the type of fireman we know.  The firemen we know save houses from burning down.  The firemen in this book burn houses to the ground.  It is there job to do this if a citizen is found in possession of a book.  This story takes place sometime in the distant future when politicians and people in power realize that books give people too many ideas.  They ban books to make society more "peaceful".  They ban books to water down life so that people will obey without questions.  One day, Montag meets Clarisse - a wise 17 year old girl who opens Montag's eyes to the world's potential.  From then on, Montag seeks to understand why books are banned and wants one for himself.  He becomes wrapped up in a war between being mindless or having a mind of his own.
I hate to say this but for a lot of the novel I was extremely confused.  It took me a while to catch on to the world that Bradbury had created that so much mirrors our own.  It's scary to think about a world where books are banned and yet the idea of it seems realistic.  The concept that Bradbury writes about is one that is hugely original.  I can't imagine a world without books!  And yet here are characters who haven't read books but have been subjected to mindless TV programs and constant noise.  In today's world much of the same things happen.  We are always surrounded by noise.  Has anyone ever thought about that?  When we go to restaurants, there is music playing and big screen TV's playing about three different stations at once.  People can't walk to class without putting headphones on.  I have a friend who can't do her homework in silence.  She has to have music or TV on to help her concentrate.  The world Bradbury has created is so strikingly similar to our own at this current moment that it is almost frightening.  I think this book is a plea to us as readers.  It urges us to not let mindless things like the media and the internet distract us from what is important - whether it be books or something else.  Overall, I think the book covered a great topic and it is, and will be, an important book for people to read!  I will give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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