About the Author

Ray Douglas Bradbury
author of more than 500 published literary work.
born in Waukegan, Illinois, on August 22, 1920.
in 1934, when Bradbury was 14, the family moved permanently to Los Angeles, California (Bradbury
still resides there, but regards Waukegan as his hometown and has used it as the setting of two of his
novels, under the pseudonym of Green Town).
at a young age, Bradbury developed a love of magic and had aspirations of becoming a magician. His
family encouraged his creativity, and he eventually turned to writing.
In 1937, at the age of 17, Bradbury became a member of the Los Angeles Science Fiction League.
Bradbury's first short story was published in Weird Tales when he was 20.
recipient of countless literary awards, including the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin
Award, the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Science Fiction Writers of America
Grand Master Award.
The Characteristics of a Dystopian Society
totalitarian regime or police state
propaganda used to control citizens
information, independent thought, and freedoms restricted
Strict social stratification (upper, middle, lower classes)
Citizens under constant surveillance
Fear of the outside world
ubiquitous technology (ie. surveillance and control)
dehumanized cityscape/natural world is feared distrusted
widespread pollution
privations (lack of basic necessities or comfort of life)
all powerful corporations
regression to earlier stages of civilization and anarchy
the society is an illusion of a perfect utopia
Symbolism in Fahrenheit 451
Salamander: The Salamander insignia represents the firemen of Bradbury’s brave new world. Bradbury uses
the Salamander to exemplify the decrepit nature of the government. This society, like a salamander, has sunk
into the depths of depravity, and now, though seemingly modern, is really more primitive than ever.
Seashells: The seashells, or ear-radios, are used to promote the propaganda of the government and
advance its agenda, or lack thereof. Using these shells, the people drift off to sea, so to speak, and lose
sight of reality.
Parlor family/television: This artificial family embodies the quality that the government seeks most to
promote in its people: superficiality. The parlor family knows nothing of reality, but instead is focused on
temporal pleasures. Like the seashells, the televised family serves as a distraction and a mindless way to
occupy man’s mind.
Montag: It’s interesting to note that the name Montag is actually the name of a paper manufacturing
company. In many ways, Montag is a blank slate who picks up bits of knowledge from Clarisse, Faber,
and finally Granger. Bradbury chuckles about this “coincidence” in his afterword to Fahrenheit 451.
Montag also means “Monday” in German, representing a new beginning or fresh start.
Faber: Faber is the name of a pencil manufacturing company. Bradbury also chuckles about this in his
afterword. In many ways, Faber, the instructing professor, is like a pencil, writing on Montag’s notepad.
On a metaphorical level, Faber symbolizes the tool (as his name implies) of learning. 1818/
Fire: Fire is an artificial substitute for the reality of truth, which can only be found in books. Beatty
dedicates his life to burning when he can’t find satisfaction in the books he reads.
Mechanical Hound: The Hound is a computerized animal used by the government to punish its enemies,
such as Montag. Though Montag torches the first Hound, a second one is brought in to track him. The
Hound represents the strong hand of dictatorship. It is the enforcer of government policy.
Beatty: If there is one, Beatty represents the mastermind behind government censorship. He is not a robot
like Montag, but a man who consciously chooses to do evil.
Sieve and Sand: The Sieve and the Sand image is used by Bradbury to explain Montag’s goal to learn the
knowledge he reads in books. Like sand falling through a sieve, Montag thinks that if he reads fast
enough, at least some of the books’ wisdom will be retained before it falls through the sieve of his mind.
Themes in Fahrenheit 451
(ie. censorship destroys independence and individuality, censorship is corrupt, censorship is dangerous,
-owning and reading books is illegal
-society focuses only on immediate gratification and speeding through life.
-there is no time to appreciate nature or literature
-there is no time for self reflection
-books are burned and their owner is arrested
-if the owner refuses to abandon the books he or she often burns with them (old woman)
-people not interested in technology and entertainment are viewed as crazy and possible threats (Clarisse
is killed in a automobile “accident”)
(Ignorance is destructive, dangerous,etc. Knowledge is dangerous/powerful/encourages independence,
-knowledge and ignorance are in constant conflict throughout the novel
-is ignorance bliss? Or is knowledge a prerequisite for happiness?
-it is Montag’s job to destroy knowledge and thus promote ignorance and “sameness” in society
-after meeting Clarisse, Montag experiences an epiphany. He believes life is more fulfilling with
-Montag ends up battling against a society that celebrates ignorance (he forces his wife’s friends to listen
to poetry. They become extremely upset, but Montag believes that experiencing a true emotion will make
their lives more fulfilling)
(ie. technology creates a disconnect amongst people; technology devalues human life; technology is
dangerous; etc.)
-Technology is highly advanced
-Technology dominates society.
-Parlor walls and seashells prevent Montag and Mildred from communicating
-People rely too heavily on technology like the Mechanical Hound and the snake-like tool used to save
Mildred's life
-People drive cars at speeds of 150mph and above.
-the jets overhead and the looming war illustrate the destructive capabilities of technology