fahrenheit 451 – some discussion questions



1. Why would society make "being a pedestrian" a crime? (Clarisse ’s uncle was once arrested for this.)

Similarly, Clarisse describes a past that Montag has never known: one with front porches, gardens, and rocking chairs. What do these items have in common, and how might their removal have encouraged Montag's repressive society?

2. Captain Beatty quotes history, scripture, poetry, philosophy. Why hasn't he been punished? How can

Beatty's knowledge of and hatred for books be reconciled?

3. Beatty tells Montag that firemen are "custodians of peace of mind" and that they stand against "those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought." Do firemen accomplish this objective? Are conflicting ideas the only source of unhappiness in their society? What else might there be? Can conflicting ideas exist even without books that have been destroyed and outlawed?

4. One suicide and one near-suicide occur in this book. Millie, who shuns books but loves TV and driving fast in her car, anesthetizes herself; "We get these cases nine or ten a night," says the medical technician. Another woman, sets herself on fire with her books; "These fanatics always try suicide," says Beatty. Why would two people such different people both try to take their own lives?

5. Do you believe, as Montag did, that Beatty wanted to die? If so, why do you think so?

6. Why does Beatty program the Hound to track Montag even before Montag stole the book? Did you find anything else interesting about the Hound?

7. Montag turns to books to rescue him; instead they help demolish his life – he loses his home, wife, job, commits murder…but he’s saved from the destruction of the war. Does Montag learn anything in his journey? What are the more complex themes here , beyond “censorship and conformity lead are bad ”?

8. Where does Faber fit into the story? Do you think he actually got on the bus and was saved?

9. Since the government is so opposed to readers, thinkers, walkers, and slow drivers, why does it allow the procession of men along the railroad tracks to exist?

10. Also, once Montag becomes a violent revolutionary, why does the government purposely capture an innocent man in his place instead of tracking down the real Montag?

11. Granger tells Montag, "Right now we have a horrible job; we're waiting for the war to begin and, as quickly, end...When the war's over, perhaps we can be of some use in the world." Do you think that the books they carry inside themselves will make a difference? What about the fact that they memoriz ed words but not the meaning….will they know WHY these books are important?

12. What does Granger mean when he says, "We're going to go build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long time to look at them?" Why would "mirrors" be important in this new society? (Note: In Part 1, Clarisse is said to be "like a mirror.")

13. For those who read the Author’s notes at the back – what do you think about the changes Bradbury made in later dramatic versions of the story? Why didn’t make those changes in the book’s reprint?

14. Compare the three main women in the book – Clarisse, Mildred and the woman who burned with her house. How are they similar? Do these or any of the other female characters have any depth here?

15. Although Ray Bradbury's work is often referred to as science fiction, Fahrenheit has plenty to say about the world as it is, and not as it could be. What themes did you find most/least interesting?

16. Montag comes to learn that "firemen are rarely necessary" because "the public itself stopped reading of its own accord." Bradbury wrote his novel in 1953: To what extent has his prophecy come true today? Do we view TV and books as he predicted? What is different?

17. Why do you think the firemen's rulebook credited Benjamin Franklin-- writer, publisher, political leader, inventor, ambassador--as being the first fireman? [hint – what was one of his early jobs?]

18. If you had to memorize a single book or risk its extinction, which book would you choose?