I first read Fahrenheit 451 years ago. Was it in junior high school? High school? I really can’t remember when I read it, but when I saw the audio book sitting on the shelf of the library, I was intrigued. This dystopian novel was definitely worth a second read and it turns out it was also worth a third! Yes, as soon as I finished listening to it, I went back to the beginning and listened to it again.
For those of you who have never read Fahrenheit 451, or like me forgot more about the book than you remembered, Fahrenheit 451, written in 1953 is about a futuristic society where books are outlawed and people spend their days watching stories which make little sense on large wall to wall screens. Between watching these “parlor walls”, listening to the radio via seashell ear radios, and driving 100 plus miles an hour looking at the 200 foot long bill boards little time was left to actually think about anything meaningful. It was all about “being happy” and knowledge was actually a bad thing, after all it made people feel superior.
Guy Montag was a fireman, as was his father and his grandfather. His job was not to put out fires as houses were now fire proofed, but to burn down houses found with books as well as to destroy the books themselves. Montag never gave this any thought until he meets Clarisse McClellan, a strange 17-year-old girl who enjoys walking in the rain, picking dandelions and asking questions, something no one ever did. A series of events occur including a fire call gone wrong and Montag begins to question everything he once believed to be true. He realizes that he can’t even remember how he met his wife Mildred, a shell of a woman who watches the parlor walls all day and actually considers the characters in the shows her family. Suddenly his life begins to spin out of control.
Fahrenheit 451 may have been written 60 some years ago, but it is still a powerful, thought-provoking book. The televisions in my house are not quite as large as the wall to wall parlor walls described in Bradbury’s book, but they certainly have gotten much larger in recent years. And come to think of it, I can often be seen around town with little buds in my ears listening to my stories (via audio books). Yes, Fahrenheit 451 certainly has me thinking!
Next on my “to reread” list… Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte