Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Dystopian? Check. Classic novel that should’ve been read in school but was never assigned? Check. Deal with books and the danger of the loss of literacy? Check. Sounds like a book I would love.
And I did. Fahrenheit 451 is the story of Guy Montag, a fireman who doesn’t put out fires but starts them, specifically in order to burn books.
It’s an interesting world Bradbury painted in Fahrenheit, and one that I can see us shifting to more and more each day, which makes me incredibly sad. He describes rooms with tv screens taking up the entire wall, all the way around, with tv “families” inviting you in. They even give viewers scripts to read to feel like they’re actually a part of the drama. Why live in the real world when you can live in fake ones? People are afraid to have their own ideas, and books are forbidden, burned, because people shouldn’t be able to think differently; the risk of offense is too great with books, so if they’re all taken away, no one is offended, everyone is happy.
In a world of “political correctness,” where people are afraid of offending, this doesn’t seem too far off, but the idea of burning books so as to refuse people from feeling offended in any way, under the pretense of wanting everyone to be happy, takes away that very same happiness and replaces it with a stale, faux-happiness that is, in fact, deep sadness. The fact that people have to lose themselves in their tv “families” and earbuds just proves how terrible and pathetic the real world actually is. And it’s frightening.
Especially since so many of these predictions have come true. Everywhere you go, people are walking around with either a bluetooth device or headphones stuck in their ears, drowning out the real world in favor of one of their desire. Flatscreen televisions are everywhere, the bigger the better. And the fact that the media faked the ending to Montag’s chase because of audiences’s short attention spans is perhaps the scariest and most striking resemblance of them all, the most detrimental to literacy and knowledge, and the way the human race is evolving.
A much more accessible dystopian classic novel than its 1984 or A Brave New World counterparts, Fahrenheit 451 is equally chilling, gripping, and predictive, and I’m not quite ready to watch the world of books burn.