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FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury

Updated on August 12, 2013

the classic science fiction novel about censorship

Ray Bradbury's 1953 novel FAHRENHEIT 451 was a response to some of the major concerns of World War II, with a future society depicted as having evolved into a diet of mass media and literal sedation under a regime of censorship and book burning. With all houses constructed as fireproof, the job of firemen becomes that of fascist police: they hunt down and burn books. And why have books become banned in this imagined future? So that no one will ever get offended by anything that anyone writes. Sound like any present day situations to you?

This lens explores the debate and discussion that has surrounded the novel since its publication, and also includes info about movie adaptations.

Plot Synopsis

"Fahrenheit 451: The Temperature at Which Book Paper Catches Fire, and Burns."

~ Montag

Bradbury titled his book after the fact that paper ignites at a temperature of 451 degrees Fahrenheit. In the story, all books have been declared illegal and so, with the development of fireproof homes, firemen now have the job of tracking down and burning books. We follow along with a fireman named Montag as he goes from being content in his life and job to realizing how little people think or feel. His wife is obsessed with her soap operas, which she watches on a wall-sized screen referred to as a "family" and not as a television. After watching an old woman refuse to leave her house when the firemen come to burn her books (she lights the fire herself and commits suicide), Montag begins to question everything he's been taught...and he starts to read.

About Bradbury and FAHRENHEIT 451

As much as FAHRENHEIT 451 has been praised, it's still one of the titles that continues to face attacks and banning attempts.

"Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy."

~ from Fahrenheit 451

The Book Banning Debate

This book has been repeatedly attack with banning attempts because it deals with themes of freedom of expression, censorship, freedom of thought, exchange of information, and questioning the government and authority figures. The society depicted is devoid of emotion due to usage of mood-modulating drugs, spends almost all of their free time watching tv and are encouraged to spy and report on one another.

What's your take on FAHRENHEIT 451?

Study Guides for Fahrenheit 451

Francois Truffaut's FAHRENHEIT 451 - released in 1966

Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451

This English-language movie was made by French-filmmaker Francois Truffant.. He barely spoke English at the time he made the film, and it was the first movie Truffant made which was shot in color. Julie Christie has a dual role, playing Linda, Montag's wife as well as Clarisse, the woman Montag meets on the train.


451 Video - trailers, commentary, clips and more

Here are some short videos that are related to FAHRENHEIT 451. There are movie trailers, book reviews, commentary about book bans, clips and more.


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