F451 Intro - District 158

Fahrenheit 451
The act of writing is, for me, like a fever -- something I must do. And it
seems I always have some new fever developing, some new love to follow
and bring to life. -- Ray Bradbury
451 Settings & Conflicts
Physical Setting
– Sometime in 24th century
– In and around unspecified city
Social Setting
– Two atomic wars since 1990
– Written words prohibited
External Conflict:
– Montag (rejects book burning) vs.
Fire Captain Beatty (defends)
Internal Conflict:
– Montag accepting new world
(violence/conformity) vs. Montag
wanting old world (gentler/creative)
Dystopia: an imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is
extremely bad, as from oppression and/or terror.
451 Historical Context
Written in 1950–1953, Los Angeles, CA
– Futuristic, inspired by 1950’s reality
– World War II recently ended
– Middle class & consumerism rising
– Era of McCarthyism
– Threat of nuclear warfare loomed
(Many Sci-Fi books and movies reflected this fear)
Attack on Censorship Based on History
– Future based on life Bradbury knew
– Book burnings of Nazi regime and
Soviet Union
– Authors suppressed through statedirected writers' organizations.
– Dissident writers were thrown into jails
or exiled.
451 Character Names
Guy Montag (Fireman/Protagonist)
– Guy Fawkes? (English
– Name of a paper company
Clarisse McClellan
– Form of Clara, Latin for “bright”
– Often associated with brightness
different from a fire’s
Professor Faber
– Name of a pencil company
Fire Captain Beatty
– Insists society is ok
451 Structure
Each chapter has a title that
represents its theme
1: The Hearth and the Salamander
2: The Sieve and the Sand
3: Burning Bright
We will explore this idea more as
we read
451 Themes
Self-expression is important and powerful.
Violence is self-destructive.
People lose their humanity when not able
to personally interact with each other.
Mindless pleasure seeking and materialism
make for an empty life.
Life is meaningless in a controlled, uniform
society without imagination.
Technology can isolate people and inhibit
the sharing of ideas and emotions.
In the wrong hands, modern technology
can be dangerous.
Without preserved knowledge of the past
(books), a civilization dies or kills itself.
Humanity can be reborn or revived.
Censorship: the suppression of what is thought to be dangerous or
Predict or Prevent?
Bradbury claimed he was trying to
“prevent the future,” not predict it.
He did foresee future developments:
– Walkmans, earbuds, big-screen
and interactive TV, rise in violence,
growing illiteracy, condensation of
info into “sound bites”
In F451, Bradbury satirizes:
– Technology
– Mass media
– Organized sports
– High-speed automobiles
Fahrenheit 451 -- the temperature at which books begin to burn
451 Symbols
Fire & Burning: destructive force
at first; way to be warm in the end
Blood: repressed spirit
Water: baptism, rebirth, cleansing
Unpleasant Insects/Animals:
intrusive technology
Mirrors: self-understanding
Mechanical Hound: destructive
technology not easily destroyed.
(Demonstrates why people are better than
Fahrenheit 451 -- the temperature at which books burn