“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
This was a weird book to read. It’s been on my list for ages and ever since they’ve released a movie, I wanted to see the story of the fireman by myself.
It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
This book is a gem if you read it at the right age. A fireman that starts fires and burns books which are outlawed now? It doesn’t offer many solutions but it raises the question: why? What is it about books, about poetry, about literature that is so essential to us? There is no doubt in my mind that it isessential, if not for all individuals (although I find it hard to imagine life without books, I know there are some people who don’t read for pleasure, bizarre as that seems to me), then for society. Why should that be? Books don’t contain any hard-and-fast answers to all of life’s questions. They might contain great philosophical Truths, but only subjectively so — there will always be someone who will argue and disagree with whatever someone else says.
“If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.”
The burning of books is such an effective tool for controlling the population, so the message of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is scarily real. If society’s wisdom could be taken away, then so could their freedom. If knowledge was burnt, then the people would be left in a complete state of utter innocent ignorance. There would be no room for free thought, that way they could be told anything about history and themselves. If all books were burnt, then they are just sheep to be led into a future dictated by the government. To make it worse the men who do it enjoy it.
“The books are to remind us what asses and fool we are. They’re Caeser’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, “Remember, Caeser, thou art mortal.” Most of us can’t rush around, talking to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven’t time, money or that many friends. The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.”
I loved some parts of the book – explaining a world where hostility towards knowledge is common and liberty to act is an unknown concept. I liked the fact that he’s a reluctant hero capable of stealing one of the last surviving copies of the Bible and recognising what it means.
Readers often choose to view Bradbury’s story as one about censorship instead of technology because that allows a more modern reader to connect with the world portrayed. But taken as it was intended, I just don’t share the author’s sentiments. Not all technology is good, but I’m of the opinion that the good outweighs the bad: medical advancements, entertainment, access to information via the internet.
“Do you understand now why books are hated and feared? Because they reveal the pores on the face of life. The comfortable people want only the faces of the full moon, wax, faces without pores, hairless, expressionless.”
The Coda and Afterword just add to the confuse making me confused on whether Bradbury is a very hateful man or just a hypocrite. The main plot of the novel itself is that the majority rule cancelled out intellectualism while in the Coda (maybe Afterword, I don’t remember which was which) Bradbury blasts minorities (all, including racial, religious, etc.) for creating an overly sensitive society. Oddly enough, his heroes are the minority. Ha.