Kat Hooper's Reviews > Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
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Aug 21, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: audiobook, favorites
Read in January, 2010

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Books are dangerous. They’re full of ideas that make people think about the world, feel passion, and perhaps act out. That’s not good for society; it causes conflict, uprising, and interference with the status quo. People who read and think scare people who don’t, so most citizens have happily given up the right to decide what to think about and now let the government fill their brains with constant loud mindless entertainment. This managed input has equalized society; nobody feels inferior to anyone else and there’s no conflict anymore. Dull minds, constant entertainment, and conformity make society run smoothly.

Guy Montag works as a fireman. He burns books at night while his wife sits in her parlor and listens to inane media shows at high volume. But Clarice, the teenager next door, is different. Her family sits around and talks. They discuss things and they laugh with each other. Guy wonders what they talk about as he watches his wife talk to the strangers on TV and pop sleeping pills…

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 presents a possible frightening future in which intellectual pursuits and nonconformity are deemed dangerous and subversive. It’s been more than half a century since Fahrenheit 451 was published and we’ve seen censorship laws actually become looser over the years and the advent of the internet has brought on the current “information age.” But that doesn’t make Fahrenheit 451 irrelevant because it’s about much more than literary censorship. It’s about freedom of speech and individual rights. It’s about thinking for ourselves and what might happen if we let the government tell us what we can see, hear, or own.

Fahrenheit 451 resonates with me on so many levels. First of all, it’s just superbly written. I love Bradbury’s intense style which translates especially well on Blackstone Audio’s version read by Christopher Hurt. Here he describes the show that Mrs Montag watches all day:

A great thunderstorm of sound gushed from the walls. Music bombarded him at such an immense volume that his bones were almost shaken from their tendons; he felt his jaw vibrate, his eyes wobble in his head. He was a victim of concussion. When it was all over he felt like a man who had been thrown from a cliff, whirled in a centrifuge and spat out over a waterfall that fell and fell into emptiness and emptiness and never — quite — touched — bottom — never — never — quite — no not quite — touched — bottom ... and you fell so fast you didn't touch the sides either... never... quite... touched... anything.

The thunder faded. The music died.

"There," said Mildred. And it was indeed remarkable. Something had happened. Even though the people in the walls of the room had barely moved, and nothing had really been settled, you had the impression that someone had turned on a washing-machine or sucked you up in a gigantic vacuum. You drowned in music and pure cacophony. He came out of the room sweating and on the point of collapse. Behind him, Mildred sat in her chair and the voices went on again…


Second, I share Bradbury’s ardent passion for knowledge and learning. The thought of lost information, burned books, mindless entertainment, meaningless small-talk, conformity, and intellectual malaise makes my stomach twist. I don’t believe that we’re in danger of the anti-intellectualism that Bradbury posits, but still his ideas get me riled up.

Third, I’ll admit that I’m a rebel at heart. While I recognize that obeying laws and paying taxes are a necessary part of living in a well-functioning society, I feel mostly distrustful and suspicious when the government increases taxes, takes over more functions in society, tells us what to believe, and tries to revoke constitutional freedoms. In this context, Bradbury’s possible future doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.

I’m pleased that my school district assigns Fahrenheit 451 in its middle-school curriculum, though I find it a bit ironic that some publishers have edited the language to make it more “suitable” for teenagers.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Traveller (new) - added it

Traveller A million likes for this review.

" Books are dangerous. They’re full of ideas that make people think about the world, feel passion, and perhaps act out. That’s not good for society; it causes conflict, uprising, and interference with the status quo. People who read and think scare people who don’t, so most citizens have happily given up the right to decide what to think about and now let the government fill their brains with constant loud mindless entertainment. This managed input has equalized society; nobody feels inferior to anyone else and there’s no conflict anymore. Dull minds, constant entertainment, and conformity make society run smoothly. "

How incredibly apt of the situation we find ourselves in today. Bradbury and Kat Hooper are visionaries, no?


Kat  Hooper Traveller wrote: "A million likes for this review.

" Books are dangerous. They’re full of ideas that make people think about the world, feel passion, and perhaps act out. That’s not good for society; it causes conf..."


Gee, thanks, Traveller! Can I put your last sentence on my tombstone????


message 3: by Traveller (new) - added it

Traveller Kat wrote: "Gee, thanks, Traveller! Can I put your last sentence on my tombstone???? .."

Certainly! Leave out the "no" while you're at it. Your words just jumped out of the page at me, Kat!


Stephanie Swint It really is a great review Kat. Traveller, you are spot on.


Henry Avila Great review and very well stated,Kat.


message 6: by Mona (new) - added it

Mona Great review, Kat.


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