Uploaded by Sk8erD00d on Dec 12, 2004
Imagine a culture where books are prohibited, where the basic rights illustrated in the First Amendment hold no weight and society is merely a brainwashed, mechanical population. According to Ray Bradbury, the author of Fahrenheit 451, this depiction is actually an exaggerated forecast for the American future – and in effect is happening around us every day. Simply reading his words can excite theories and arguments pertaining not only to the banning of books but to our government structure itself. Age-old debates about Communism and equality are stirred by the trials of characters in Bradbury’s unique world. By studying the protagonist, Guy Montag, and his personal challenges we can, in a sense, evaluate our own lives to see that we don’t make similar mistakes.
While the book is definitely a critique of society and of the government, readers are given many dominant themes to follow, and to find all of them requires several readings. The main plot, following Montag, illustrates the importance of making mistakes in order to grow. For example, at the very end of the book Granger (an outspoken rebel to the book-banning laws) compares mankind to a phoenix that burns itself up and then rises out of its ashes over and over again. Man's advantage is his ability to recognize when he has made an error, so that eventually he will learn not to make that mistake anymore. Remembering the faults of the past is the task Granger and his group have set for themselves. They believe that individuals are not as important as the collective mass of culture and history. The symbol of the phoenix's rebirth refers not only to the cyclical nature of history and the collective rebirth of humankind but also to Montag's own spiritual resurrection.
Appropriately named, Guy is just a regular person who started out as a drone, following the dictations of his superficial leaders (his last name, Montag, is also ironic in that it is the name of a paper-manufacturing company). Eventually, however, he begins to realize that while reflecting the morals of equality in that no one was above the law, his society also takes away the power of an individual to make a difference. He starts out rash, inarticulate, self-obsessed, and too easily swayed. At times he is not even aware of why he does things, feeling that his hands are acting by themselves. These subconscious actions can be...