Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This book often gets mentioned alongside 1984 and Brave New World as dystopia classics. Out of the three, it’s the only one that wasn’t mandatory in high school. After hearing rave reviews from a good number of people, I decided I would read it – at the risk of the plot being exactly the same as the other two. The story turned out to be perhaps more like the Book Thief, and the writing style is also quite different from what I remembered of 1984.

1) “‘I sometimes think drivers don’t know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly….If you showed a driver a green blur, Oh yes! he’d say, that’s grass! A pink blur? That’s a rose-garden.'” – Clarisse

I really like this twist on perception of truth.

2) “How rarely did other people’s faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought?”

I want people to show me my judging and questioning face.

3) “‘We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?'” – Montag

Have I been bothered by something important and real lately?

4) “‘It didn’t come from Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.'” – Captain Beatty

One of the more interesting concepts in this story is that the population grew to be self-censoring and self-policing. It didn’t start with someone coming in and enforcing laws. Scary reminder that there isn’t always a clear culprit.

5) “‘Coloured people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book.'” – Captain Beatty

The fine line between free speech and offensive speech will probably never go away.

6) “‘Nothing you can teach or believe. They’re about non-existent people, figments of imagination, if they’re fiction. And if they’re nonfiction, it’s worse, one professor calling another an idiot, one philosopher screaming down another’s gullet. All of them running about, putting out the stars and extinguishing the sun. You come away lost.'” – Captain Beatty

Wow. This is all truth. This is also a direct attack on this blog.

7) “‘Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what the books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.'” – Faber


8) “‘Those who don’t build must burn.'” – Faber

This sounds like some unspoken MIT motto.

9) “‘What is there about fire that’s so lovely? No matter what age we are, what draws us to it? It’s perpetual motion; the thing man wanted to invent but never did.'” – Captain Beatty

Fire, water, clouds. The best things to look at.

10) “‘But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time.'” – Granger

Convince but don’t take credit. Does it really work?

Overall, Fahrenheit 451 is solid. I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best classics, although I think this is largely a result of 1984/Book Thief having incumbent advantage.

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