Fahrenheit 451 Themes.doc - Tupper Secondary English

Fahrenheit 451 - Themes
"Themes are the central, recurring subjects of a novel. As characters grapple with
circumstances such as racism, class, or unrequited love, profound questions will arise in the
reader’s mind about human life, social pressures, and societal expectations. Classic themes
include intellectual freedom versus censorship, the relationship between one’s personal moral
code and larger political justice, and spiritual faith versus rational considerations. A novel often
reconsiders these age-old debates by presenting them in new contexts or from new points of
As one reads Fahrenheit 451, certain themes stand out: the repression of free thought through
censorship, a proper education that values books, the loss of culture and history, the threat that
new technology may deaden human experience, the constant demand to satisfy immediate
visual and sensory appetites, the value of authentic human interaction, and the value of the
natural world. For Bradbury, our choice to use, misuse, or discard books relates to all these
themes." - taken from
Freedom of Thought:
1. p. 158 - "And on either side of the river, there was a tree of life....healing of the
nations." This quote shows that in spite of the negativity towards books by most of this
society, a small group of people (i.e. Montag and company) are fighting to make change and
create something positive.
2. p. 80 - "Oh, but we've plenty of off hours...it tells you what to think and blasts it in." This is talking about how people only get their information from television; therefore, freedom
of thought is limited in this society. The televisions are handing the information to people.
People don't have time to think for themselves, because there is no conflict in information there is only one side.
1. p. 27 "An hour of television class, an hour of basketball...four more hours of filmteachers." This quote shows how our system of education is different, because students decide
to ask questions. By contrast, in the novel, students don't care and aren't encouraged to
2. p. 57 "[Clarisse] didn't want to know how a thing was done but why." This quote shows
that most people in this society don't care about what they're learning about, or why; the
education system is telling them only how to do something versus why or how to make it
3. p.87 "Remember, the fireman are rarely necessary…quality of information and take
leisure...of the first two." Love, loyalty, curiosity, quality of information, and leisure and so
forth are necessary to create citizens. Without these virtues, one wouldn't be able to recognize
what's really going on in society, etc.
1. p. 8 "Of course I'm happy... [Montag] moved his eyes quickly away." Montag is in
denial; he tells himself he's happy, but he's not. He makes reference to something "peering
down at him" from behind the grill. Perhaps this is an early reference to the books he's hidden?
2. p. 9 "[Montag] was not happy...he said the words to himself." This shows that Montag
finally admits that he's not happy with the way life is.
In the novel, the characters define happiness through social class and material goods. By
contrast, Bradbury wants us to define it through emotions, family, meaningful relationships,
search for knowledge and truth, etc.
1. p. 144 Granger says, "'The Book of Ecclesiastes would be fine. Where was it?...then
touches [Montag's] head." This interesting passage shows how much Montag has changed. In
the beginning, he was burning books while at this point in the novel (at the end), he's fighting
to save books.
p. 51 "There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay
in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't stay for nothing." Simply
put, Bradbury is writing about the power of books (and ideas) to change the way people think,
to give people a sense of freedom of thought, to make sense of the world. This is especially
powerful in a totalitarian state such as the one in Fahrenheit 451.
Additional Themes (similar to thesis statements) from the Novel:
1. In Fahrenheit 451, we see how a person can change through certain events in their lives.
2. Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 demonstrates how individuals can change dramatically due
to transformative events.
3. In Fahrenheit 451, government corruption leads to conformity.
4. In Fahrenheit 451, one minor character's question causes a major character to question his
job, his philosophy, and his entire existence.
5. A "family" should never replace a family.
6. Even in an oppressive society that seeks to squelch individual thinking and crush dreams, the
power of literature and thirst for knowledge will ultimately prevail.