“So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless. We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam.”
In a world where intellect is considered dangerous, firemen set fires, not put them out. Specifically, firemen set fires to books – objects considered to be the tools behind world war. However, when Guy Montag meets a curious girl from next door, he starts thinking that there is more to life than his line of work and the glut of media and entertainment being stuffed down their throats.
Guy Montag, Finder of the Spark
A believer in the system at first, Montag represents the general state of people in our world – changing due to a line of triggers. Upon meeting the likeness of the girl next door (who claims him to be unhappy), seeing his wife go through non-personal treatment and consuming countless media without question, and finally, an older lady insisting on being burnt with her books, he starts thinking.
And as it is in reality, having ideas is a wild card and either way, there will be a good number of people who will discourage these ideas. However, Montag demonstrates curiosity and the resilience to go through with that curiosity – finding older professors and people of the same likeness, even if it meant leaving the life of comfort he knew before he finally read his first book.
Intellectualism vs. Consumerism
The main issue within Fahrenheit 451 was the battle of intellect versus pure entertainment. Justifying the need to maintain peace, the government abolished all forms of ideals and unneeded knowledge, training the people to be proficient only in what is needed to get through in living, everything else will be nothing but mindless entertainment to keep the mind distracted.
Though written in the time of the World Wars, the novel touches on a topic which we are facing contemporarily. Like in the book, our media channels now have a bigger focus on entertaining content, instead of content which will help intellect and people to think of ways to improve or move forward. At the same time, it shows the ultimate result of such exposure, something we are facing now as well – a intellectually neutered population – people who would rather follow instructions without question than question the effectiveness of instructions and whether things can be done better and how to find the appropriate situation to question.
Style & Structure
Fahrenheit 451 was written in a third person narrative with bursts of emotions written as if they were experienced in the first person. Montag’s thoughts and actions when he reflects or is under pressure switches seamlessly to a few paragraphs of the rushed imagery running through his head. This can reflect how we consume media in general – looking at it from a third party perspective, only to have it affect you as the thoughts and influences go through your head.
In the meantime…