EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up Book Club discussion

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CLASSICS READS > Fahrenheit 451 - *SPOILERS*

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message 1: by Kaseadillla (new)

Kaseadillla | 1364 comments Mod
Discussion for our Aug '16 BOTM Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This thread is **FULL OF SPOILERS**. For the pre-read/spoiler free conversation, please head over to this thread .

Happy reading!


message 2: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 343 comments I read this a while back and didn't think it lived up to the hype. Looking forward to what others think.


message 3: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (anicholsb) | 24 comments “The books are to remind us what asses and fool we are. They're Caeser's praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, "Remember, Caeser, thou art mortal." Most of us can't rush around, talking to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven't time, money or that many friends. The things you're looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don't ask for guarantees. And don't look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.”

What I love about this book is that Ray Bradbury recognizes the power of the written word to change the world. This book is about a time when censorship has reached a new level, and it's gone far beyond the news. Books themselves have been found by the government to be too dangerous, as they promote free thinking and questioning of the world. “If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it." Instead everyone watches meaningless interactive television and has become very one dimensional and unhappy without seeming to know why. There are echos of Nazi book burning here as well as trepidation about the rise of television.

I think the conclusion is one of the most hopeful in a Bradbury novel. (view spoiler) “We're going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we're doing, you can say, We're remembering. That's where we'll win out in the long run. And someday we'll remember so much that we'll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in it and cover it up.”

An amazing book that needs to be read a few times. I get something new out of it every time!


message 4: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Aug 06, 2016 12:16AM) (new)

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 562 comments This is one of the best books ever written. I read it again every few years. Absolutely stunning on every level! I think it is becoming more non-fiction as the decades pass by, too.


message 5: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (anicholsb) | 24 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "I think it is becoming more non-fiction as the decades pass by, too."

Like wall sized television screens!


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 562 comments And how TV hypnotizes viewers, and how some people become more invested in a TV family than they are in their real family. How there were studies done after this book was written which proved TV dumbs down people.


message 7: by Luella (new)

Luella | 98 comments I think my favorite part was when the old lady struck the match and went down with her books.

She was like if I'm going to go down its going to be by my own hand.

I felt bad for Guy and that when he confronted the man and thought maybe he wanted or needed me to do that for him.

The speech that the commander guy gives Guy is just so classic.

I'm glad I finally read this book last year. Sure it has flaws but overall it holds a great message.


message 8: by Leesa (new)

Leesa Just finished and I have to agree with Sarah in that I didn't think it lived up to the hype.
Admittedly I was excited to read this and after reading the reviews I think they just oversold this book for me so that it couldn't possibly be as good as I had imagined it to be.

The imagery and descriptive way that Guy saw his world was brilliant, however imagery was all I was given and I didn't really invest in any of the characters enough to care about them. I didn't feel I was given the chance to- except for Clarisse whom I liked and she was ripped away from the story too prematurely for my liking.

Overall I didn't hate it and the concept was great but I will enjoy going back to my other book and happily be shelving this one.


message 10: by Kaseadillla (new)

Kaseadillla | 1364 comments Mod
I agree with Leesa and Sarah in that I don't think the characters were fleshed out enough for me, but I love the concept.

Also agree with Ashley about the metaphor of people as books and books as reflections of people. Interesting to think of a society of self-minded people as a library of sorts...


message 11: by Emily (last edited Aug 26, 2016 12:44PM) (new)

Emily  (reademilyread) | 1 comments Does anyone else feel as if this book kind of is a glance into our future? When reading this, I had this eerie feeling. A lot of the parts in this book are mirroring what is happening in our society today. Especially when Bradbury writes about censorship, and how they had to get rid of things that were "offensive" to groups of society. It's almost as if they wanted to make a utopian society in which everyone could be completely "happy", and the only way this could happen was by getting rid of books... or even thoughts. It's like that saying, "ignorance is bliss."


message 12: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Aug 26, 2016 01:46PM) (new)

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 562 comments Emily wrote: "Does anyone else feel as if this book kind of is a glance into our future? When reading this, I had this eerie feeling. A lot of the parts in this book are mirroring what is happening in our societ..."

Everything in the book is either happening right now, or you can see society is pointed in the direction Bradbury guessed might occur.

Personally, I despise reality shows and contests, but of course I have friends and family who follow TV 'families' avidly. In my Facebook feed, I see comments from fans of various stars concerned about their relationship breakups or children being sick, offering advice, condolences and even money. On Twitter, I see people in the hundreds of thousands following every utterance and publicity photo of their adored celebrity. I have relatives who have huge TV/computer monitors set up to play socially-connected video games, with the all of the required accoutrements of headset, microphones and cameras to watch and talk to fellow participants around the world or next door, playing combat or mystery hunts for hours, peeing into bottles (yes, for real) while missing out on their real life events and appointments and family life. Ask them who the governor of their state is, and you get a shrug. Tell them Syria is being barrel bombed and they might ask when did Syria get in a war? Or tell them America still has troops dying in Afghanistan, one of them lived next door, and they will say "I don't care. Never met the neighbor. But did you see Beyonce's new video?" Of course, they know every detail of Beyonce's life and her children and friends and spats.

Only 20% of registered voters vote in local elections which determine property taxes, sales taxes, school levies, rapid transit, highways, electric car charging sites, candidates for local political offices responsible for determining to what benefits citizens will have access such as health food housing or deciding on whether to start a war and start forced conscription of 18-year-olds, or mundane decisions about hiring police, and yes, the building of libraries. The 80% who don't vote probably know exactly how many times Rihanna and Drake have busted up and got back together.

Who needs to censor anything when there is only a demand for celebrity exposes and video games?


message 13: by Kaseadillla (new)

Kaseadillla | 1364 comments Mod
I think you nailed it, April. That's one of the things I thought was really intriguing about the book, that the whole idea of censorship was consumer-driven. Society demanded a synopsis over a story, demanded a headline summary over the news, demanded blanket resolutions rather than awareness - and so the "utopia" was born. That's what I thought was most interesting... and most frightening.


message 14: by Lena (new)

Lena (nlgmcr69) | 81 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "And how TV hypnotizes viewers, and how some people become more invested in a TV family than they are in their real family. How there were studies done after this book was written which proved TV du..."

I kept thinking this the entire time I was reading about the wife and her friends and the fact no one really questioned anything any more. I kept thinking how prophetic the novel was since it was written in the fifties.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 562 comments Has anyone gone without TV for a day? During a power outage, I found it is hard as time goes on. : (


message 16: by Lena (new)

Lena (nlgmcr69) | 81 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Has anyone gone without TV for a day? During a power outage, I found it is hard as time goes on. : ("

I would be fine as I really only watch the weather for a few minutes in the morning. My kiddo and husband would both be besides themselves though.


message 17: by Zoe (new)

Zoe (bookfanatic66) | 1 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Has anyone gone without TV for a day? During a power outage, I found it is hard as time goes on. : ("

I lived in China for a year and a half and never bothered to set up the TV. It was nice to be rid of the thing.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 562 comments Zoe, I wonder if tv changes how one thinks at the neurological level. I believe it does, actually. TV has been shown to decrease attention spans already. Memory is affected, too. People often almost enter a hypnotic state, some people more than others, like children. Have you noticed differences? Everyone I know watch streaming videos or cable, so we are all affected, if there is an effect. I think people who do social media hours everyday can't focus on long discourse (I'm serious! I'm long-winded!)


message 19: by Hallpassreader (new)

Hallpassreader Carrie Prock I am glad I read it. I have seen the old movie before and had been shocked about the burning of books, but nothing like when I read it. I like how he starts as being far to one side, agreeing with burning book, and goes far to the other side, memorizing a book. It has the capability to turn someone who is indifferent to reading to see a world without it. Often you don't know the worth of something until you see it's absence. Like George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life.

It made me think what book I would chose to memorize. It seems unfathomable. How do you choose which one stays and which one will be forgotten by time?


message 20: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I've gone many, many days without realizing I hadn't watched tv, but if I tried to give it up, it would be very hard. I read a ton, but I also like to watch. :)

This book turned out to be very prophetic. There are so many things Bradbury writes about that have happened. Maybe with a few tweaks, but there's still time, right?

One thing that always bothered me was the memorizing of books. I absolutely adore books. My house is full of them. They are my single largest extravagance and yet, I would simply be unable to memorize even my favorite. Keep in mind that I reread obsessively. I have faves I've 17 or 18 times and yet I am always impressed when people recite full passages from books. I can't do it!


message 21: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1025 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Has anyone gone without TV for a day? During a power outage, I found it is hard as time goes on. : ("

I haven't watched TV at all for more than six years, except one vacation when it rained I found a few (less than a dozen) episodes of Big Bang Theory. That was cute.


message 22: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1025 comments To the readers who wanted more character development - this isn't that kind of book. It's a fable. The characters are supposed to represent universal types. It's not a novel, but rather a pared down exploration of themes and language, like a poem.


message 23: by Kerri (new)

Kerri | 702 comments Leesa wrote: "I didn't really invest in any of the characters enough to care about them. I didn't feel I was given the chance to- except for Clarisse whom I liked and she was ripped away from the story too prematurely for my liking."

Interesting comment! I found the lack of character development one of the most fascinating parts about this book as to me it showed that they HAD no "character" anymore. They were empty without thought or opinion, coddled away into their empty lives of nothing, feeling a deep, unrealized frustration without knowing Why. The quiet epidemic of overdosing (to the point that the responders don't even look at it as an emergency but a routine job*), the fact that so many people NEED pills to sleep, the speeding cars running down lives without thought, the destructive Fun Parks, speaks to me of a deep, potentially unrealized, frustration that no one knows how to put words to because they don't realize that they are in gilded cages. They don't know anything else of life.

Clarisse is different because her family reads and discusses and doesn't sink into the TV. They are labeled dangerous because they have thoughts of their own and don't buy into what the government and society says they should be, want, or do. She has Character. She has Life. She serves as a juxtaposition to everyone else in Guy's life, to show just what they have lost and what kind of world it is. She is a mystery. Was her death an accident or planned? There is no telling.

Clarisse's uncle (? Maybe?) says it well:
"...this is the age of the disposable tissue. Blow your nose on a person, wad them, flush them away, reach for another, blow, wad, flush." This is a world full of empty people with empty lives. As Ashley said, the written word has the power to change the world. And this is a world where that power is being systematically destroyed.


*pg 13 in my book, the part where Mildred is being pumped after her overdose:
"'Neither of you is an M.D. Why didn't they send an M.D. from Emergency?'
'Hell!...We get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many, starting a few years ago, we had the special machines built...You don't need an M.D., case like this; all you need is two handymen, clean up the problem in half an hour. Look...we gotta go. Just had another call on the old ear-thimble. Ten blocks from here. Someone else just jumped off the cap of a pillbox. Call if you need us again."


message 24: by Kerri (new)

Kerri | 702 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Has anyone gone without TV for a day? During a power outage, I found it is hard as time goes on. : ("

I actually don't even have TV anymore. I occasionally watch Netflix with my husband when he needs a break from life (working full-time and getting his Masters degree), or when I have insomnia I watch Bob Ross to help me turn off my mind (he is so calming!) but that's about it. Maybe one or two episodes of something once a week or once every other week. I am ok with that :)


message 25: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1025 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Has anyone gone without TV for a day? During a power outage, I found it is hard as time goes on. : ("

Don't own a tv, nor have netflix or anything like that, get a movie from the library once every couple of years or so. Oh, and once I watched an old cartoon on youtube. So, yeah, the trend we're seeing, that Bradbury saw too, does terrify me... so many assumptions are made about ppl, as if we all have tv and smartphones etc. I don't even have a smartphone, either....


message 26: by Misty (last edited Feb 01, 2018 10:09PM) (new)

Misty (istymay) | 10 comments Emily wrote: "Does anyone else feel as if this book kind of is a glance into our future? When reading this, I had this eerie feeling. A lot of the parts in this book are mirroring what is happening in our societ..."

I agree with you so much here! When i was reading this i also thought exactly that. This book is a classic but it was written for the days. You said it, it's happening in the society the controlling so not to offend.
I really enjoyed this book. I did think it was a bit weird at first, then iwas drawn in. There is alot of depth. I liked the end when one of the guys says we are all the books. We keep things in our minds until they are written down. That's where our knowledge goes. It also made me think, what do we have to give to our posterity? Each individual can either live through the motions of every day life/tv, or choose to gain knowledge live and learn and share. Leave something worth while behind!


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 562 comments I believe many of the dumbing-down issues about television came true. And now the Internet...

Some producers and stations in real life have tried very much to have quality or thoughtful programming. But the public did not and seemingly do not now much want socially controversial or thoughtful or educational shows, generally. Or maybe it is the advertisers demanding bland sitcom mediocrity or mindless food/sex/explosions/torture action content?

Even now, with so much variety and quality available to watch today, much of the public appears to prefer non-thinking numbing out. Plus, I think because of the profitability of licensing shows all around the world to different countries, the dialogue of American shows is greatly simplified, and conversation has become reliant on one syllable words and trite American cultural meme visuals. I am afraid of the dumbing down of entertainment. A lot of Media entertainment is as flabby and lazy as were 1950 family sitcoms.

In the 1950’s, governments were very much in control of media content, but many middle-class families supported having dumbed down media content too - because of wanting to mold children’s thinking to be completely and only about a white-picket fence American culture and having a paranoid fear of godless Communism (not entirely a false fear - google the Cold War).

Today, in America anyway, maybe our dumbed down media content is being driven by advertisers and producers more interested in world market sales, as well as a lack of public demand for more quality. Beautiful TV pictures are more in demand than quality scripts, I think.


message 28: by Trisha (new)

Trisha | 431 comments I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this originally- but finished it today & thought it was brilliant. It seemed close enough to reality to be scary.


message 29: by Grace (new)

Grace Bailey Idk. I really liked the idea of the book and it's an amazing concept. There is an onslaught of provoking thoughts that one has to turn over in their minds. But... it wasn't like a page turner for me. It was a struggle to finish the book for me, but I really appreciate his insight into a world without powerful literature


message 30: by Elle (new)

Elle | 5 comments I really liked it. The book seemed incredibly short after the long painful slog that was Outlander. I actually felt it could be longer and was surprised when it ended. It's odd reading a nice concise book that gets to the point and just moves along. Most people I know hate this book. I can't say I really liked the characters, and some of it felt heavy-handed, but I had to remember that this book is old, and at the time a lot of the ideas expressed in it were new. Everything about it that seems stale is only because of the huge mass of literature, TV shows, and movies that have come along since inspired by it.


message 31: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1025 comments The language, the style, isn't exactly typical, so some readers may find themselves (ourselves) reading it more slowly... but that's a good thing, imo! It is indeed concise, meaning that there's a lot packed in there... so those of us (me included) who are used to reading fast, can use the reminder to slow down and savor the near-poetic imagery and the ideas....

As I said, I liked the audio, because the speaking is much slower than I normally read, and so I was def. forced to slow down, and I got so much more out of it than the times I *tried* to read it in paper.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 562 comments I also use audiobooks to slow down my reading of a book.


message 33: by Grace (new)

Grace Bailey Yes! Even though it was slow reading for me, I was sooo amazed about the age of the book! Human nature was portrayed very accurately, and his dystopian world could still be that future world for us even though it's 60 years old. Hopefully it's not prophetic


message 34: by Phil (last edited Feb 05, 2018 03:25AM) (new)

Phil J | 53 comments Some guy named Brian wrote my favorite Goodreads review of all time about this book:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 35: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 53 comments Kandice wrote: "One thing that always bothered me was the memorizing of books. I absolutely adore books..."

The idea of that scene is that once you read a book it becomes part of you, at least subconsciously. And the trick of it is learning to listen to that part of your memory and call upon it for wisdom. I first read this book in 5th or 6th grade, and the concept of carrying my books inside me has been a great comfort to me ever since.

I read somewhere that F451 is different from 1984 in that Orwell was worried about the loss of freedom, and Bradbury was worried that no one would use the freedom they had. It is a contrast of being forced by the government vs. being too lazy to care.


message 36: by Kaseadillla (new)

Kaseadillla | 1364 comments Mod
Phil wrote: "Some guy named Brian wrote my favorite Goodreads review of all time about this book: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."

Just read it on your recommendation... raising a glass as well.


message 37: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 53 comments Preeti wrote: "I’m currently at the part where Montag thinks Beaty wanted to die in the fire since he didn’t move out of the house. What do you guys think about that? Do you agree? Or do you think he thought Mont..."

If you get this edition:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
there's a deleted scene in the end notes where Beatty reveals that he used to love reading, but it failed to protect him from tragedy. Beatty turned his back on reading because he thought it was false comfort and joined (founded?) the firemen. Based on that background, I'd say Beatty was a conflicted, self-hating character and that the suicide was intentional.


message 38: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) So much to discuss here. I've been living without TV since around mid-December, when I just stopped turning it on for no real reason. I started reading more and doing puzzles and listening to music and using podcasts plus my newspapers for news. I find myself less angry overall. Something about the TV is both vapid yet also has the power to draw me in quickly to totally meaningless nonsense. I don't know how long I'll keep it off, but I may build in permanent TV-less days/weeks in future.

I'm learning more every day, in 2018 America, about how words have amazing power when weaponized. This book's message is one of many "timely" ones. There's an emphasis on the power of words in nearly every book I read lately: The Book Thief (from last month), the book I just finished on my own, Bradbury, a book I started yesterday in my car on audio. It's easy to rattle off many more. What's weird is I didn't go looking for that message. I went for different kinds of books or book club ones.

When I read Infinite Jest, Bradbury wasn't mentioned as a literary ancestor, but it's clear Wallace owed Bradbury a debt as well. I still find it so amazing how so many books basically foretold what's happening now, and yet - so many were so shocked when it all started.

Not sure what I'm saying, and it's hard to keep up w/ these discussions, or to put such "deep thoughts" into words for me, but I'm trying this month, rather than just watching.


message 39: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1025 comments Ella, that's well put. Whenever I see TV like in a waiting room or hotel breakfast bar my mood immediately changes for the worst. Protect your sanity; protect books; leave the TV off!


message 40: by Margot (new)

Margot | 93 comments I went through all of the messages written on this topic, which is not something I usually do, but I so happened to have just finished reading Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 just a few weeks ago. This book was not as revolutionary to me as 1984 was, simply because I do not believe it could happen - not completely at least.
What I believe is that books, as well as the rest of culture, paintings, sculptures,etc. constitute the one thing that remains after a civilization ends. Art is what is left of our print on the world. We (hopefully) learn from other historical periods and we get to look at how much, or how little we have evolved from there.
Now I'm not saying Bradbury's message isn't realistic, because it really is. However I believe that all of us here on Goodreads are very much like the people in the forest that Guy meets. There is always a form of rebellion, of resistance, to such dreadful situations. We are all book lovers, and for that reason I don't believe literature can or will die out. There will always be people, maybe not many, but there will always be people that'll enjoy it. More even, that will need it.

As for TV and its possible bad effects, I don't own one myself but I believe it will take up the space one allows it to take, and that "numbness" is a result of this frightening desire some people have to put their security before their freedom as the whole Snowden affair proved. Real numbness is refusing to think by oneself in order to protect oneself from a harsh reality. This is, I believe, what this book denounced and tried to prevent.


message 41: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 53 comments It might surprise you to know that Ray Bradbury was responsible for a TV show called Ray Bradbury Theater.

It was pretty good. It was basically like The Twilight Zone only in color and all the episodes were based on Ray Bradbury stories.


message 42: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) Phil wrote: "It might surprise you to know that Ray Bradbury was responsible for a TV show called Ray Bradbury Theater.

It was pretty good. It was basically like The Twilight Zone only in color and all the epi..."


Wonder if it could get picked up in 2018?


message 43: by Josefina (new)

Josefina vargas (mariajvargas) | 2 comments i just love this book so much, there are parts that really make think and change the way i view very things, still thinking about it tho


message 44: by MissLemon (last edited Feb 07, 2018 04:02AM) (new)

MissLemon | 274 comments Kaseadillla wrote: "I agree with Leesa and Sarah in that I don't think the characters were fleshed out enough for me, but I love the concept.

Also agree with Ashley about the metaphor of people as books and books as..."


My thoughts exactly - I read this back in the summer and I'm now surprised I only gave it 2 stars, but I think it was because I felt I needed something from the book that wasn't there, sadly. I rarely say this but the book needed to be longer!


message 45: by Ella (last edited Feb 07, 2018 01:12PM) (new)

Ella (ellamc)
Phil wrote: "Some guy named Brian wrote my favorite Goodreads review of all time about this book: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."

Just read it on your recommendation... raising a glass as well.


I didn't get any sleep last night, it's storming ice right now, and I've had an awful week (it's only wednesday!) but that review made me get teary-eyed!

I remember that passion about books when I was little. I remember proudly moving from one section of the library to the grown-up section all the way on the other side, past the newspapers and other periodical. The pride I felt when I first read a book that felt *important* and the way I feel now about some of those same books. That review just rocks.

I need sleep - come on 6 PM!


message 46: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) Well, work ended and I finished the book. I have a bunch of thoughts but one overall question:

was the role of women in this book purposefully "back in the kitchen, girls" or is that just by accident?

It felt so over-the-top that I honestly figured it had to be some sort of caricature, but I'm not really sure of that.

There were at least feigns of racial equality, or why the books were causing discord, etc, but nada about women, and Mildred is one of the least sympathetic characters in town. Add to that her circle of "friends" and we have less than a human being. The books have more personality and agency.

I guess I feel like Bradbury had to have done this on purpose, and if he didn't, I'm afraid I don't think I can chalk this one up to "the era in which it was written." I've been reading lots of older books lately, and this is truly the worst portrayal of women I've seen in any of them, including writing from more than a couple centuries ago.

Can anyone flesh this out with me please?


message 47: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Feb 07, 2018 11:50PM) (new)

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 562 comments As to the question why women are seen as they are, it was the way it was in the year when the book was written.

As I am in my 60's, and as I had a front row seat watching American television take over most homes from the vantage point of being a kid in a poor blue-collar/welfare-mom neighborhood, where most people never graduated from high school, I think this novel completely reflects the society manipulation of democracies then and how artists fought back at that time.

Social and political manipulation through social media was at full force then. Books and movies were heavily censored and banned, and possession of adult pornography meant a long prison sentence and being named publicly as a pervert. Remember - there was no Internet, only five TV stations, only AM radio - and everything shut down at midnight, only coming back on the air at 5 am. There were Sunday laws against opening stores and especially about opening taverns. Taverns could not have windows showing people drinking. It was also illegal to drink alcohol where people could see it from the street.

Anybody who had been in Europe during the World War II was deemed as having been perverted by exposure to European ideas of democracy, too. Those naked Greek and Roman statues and European museum art were decided by the US government as too morally corrupting for Americans, especially American women.

The U. S. Government OVERTLY and purposefully plotted and planned campaigns to control and use TV, radio shows and movies in the 1950's and early 1960's to create stupid, simple, capitalist-indoctrinated and politically conservative American citizens, as well as create a society of extremely god-fearing traditional families.

A policy after the end of WWII of promoting at least two-four children per married woman was also heavily advertised OVERTLY in posters in bus stations and coffee rooms and in women magazines' articles. America had discovered it was too small of a population to fight the Soviets and Chinese communists.

All of this was also a reaction to Soviet Union political aggression and to women having taken over most factory and plant jobs because of the shortage of men at home during WWII. American employers were ordered to fire all of the women working for them if the companies wanted government contracts. Posters were everywhere encouraging women to quit their jobs, get married and have children.

The US Government also intentionally banned many European and British books, as well as 19th-century American authors, installed the Hays code, which, for example, enforced a rule that no on-screen kiss could last more than three seconds. Because of rigid USA government television morality codes, married people in bedroom scenes could only be shown in separate beds wearing very loose neck to feet pajamas.

After WWII, many soldiers came back traumatized from war, many violent and alcoholic, unfit for family life. Women had gone to work in traditionally male jobs and did not want to give them up or have children, because at the time, any pregnancy meant automatic loss of a job and becoming a housewife whether married or not, permanently. Unmarried women were not only ostracized, they were outright openly shunned and shamed, their children taken from them since they clearly were immoral beasts, not god-fearing American women! Married women kept safely at home far from men except their husbands, and allowing only men to work at paying jobs, was deemed as the way to true democracy and to defeat Communism. Women were discouraged from college, politics, and voting, having only got the vote a couple of decades earlier. Certainly no woman should have control of their own money! Women had their ability to get credit legally taken away.

The Soviet Union had reneged on all of the treaties they signed as allies of the United States during WWII. In fact, the Soviets actively used countries they illegally invaded as proxies to attack democracies, starting wars, to increase Soviet influence. At the time, they believed in a form of Marxist communism which promoted violent revolutionary wars as necessary to overthrow capitalist nations. Plus, all communist countries were atheist, and actively shot Christians dead and burned down churches or took them over for other purposes. Soviets had the reputation of having women doing the same work as men - obviously an immoral result of their communist godlessness.

Many American intellectuals and artists and movie and TV producers were horrified by America's rigid control in use at the time - censorship, black lists, prison sentences, banning books. Many artists moved overseas in protest, and I think Bradbury was one.

Other famous artists and actors moved to France, England, the Netherlands, Mexico, etc. Those who dared go against the dumbing down, and 'cleaning up' of all Artist expression as well as anyone who resisted the US government's encouragement to include Bible stories in all of their work (this is when the phrase 'under God' was added to American money and first required of all children to add into the Pledge of Allegiance), as well as resisted writing articles only of the required showing of all American women as being only fit for motherhood and cooking (or evil seductive near naked boob-showing seducers and destroyers of the moral purity of men) were imprisoned or placed in 'black lists' banning them from being hired to make Hollywood movies or TV shows scripts.

Any artist who tried to present a more nuanced or grown-up or real picture of life were also accused of being communists - and some were - but at the time, American politics meant that only capitalist-affirming parties were legally allowed. Communist party members were convicted and put in prison for simply the act of being registered communists.

P.s America was about 97% white in the early 1970's censuses.


message 48: by Catie (new)

Catie Currie | 97 comments Ella wrote: "Well, work ended and I finished the book. I have a bunch of thoughts but one overall question:

was the role of women in this book purposefully "back in the kitchen, girls" or is that just by acci..."


Exactly!! That was the primary reason I hated this book so much! People rolled their eyes at me, but it was a serious issue I had. I don't want to read a book where every single person of my gender is portrayed in a negative light, that just seems like common sense.


message 49: by Ella (last edited Feb 08, 2018 01:35AM) (new)

Ella (ellamc) aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: ...A tremendously helpful bunch of information!"

Thanks, April! What a difference a decade makes. I was born in the late 60s, so I am essentially a child of the 70s.

I've given it some thought, and I think that despite her dying off so early in the story, Clarisse is the key. And I'm beginning to give real weight to the idea that Bradbury did this on purpose, despite his whiny post-script to the 60th anniversary edition I have.

Neil Gaiman writes in the forward that on TV, in 1953, "[wives only existed as an extension of their husbands]" paraphrasing b/c I'm too lazy to go grab the book, and I'm just not buying that Bradbury could write such a nuanced book and be so incredibly flat with creating characters for all but ONE woman in it. If he was writing a misogynist screed, Clarisse would be as one-dimensional as Mildred, I think.

But I'm not a scholar, and I don't really know much about anything.

I think he shows us two very different women here in Clarisse and Mildred. I think the names are a key, and I think he was purposeful about it. Clarisse is the non-conformist - the mirror that Guy Montag gets to first see himself reflected in, and while some will say that's also misogynistic, at this point, we have to give 1953 a nod. It's not that I think he should be 2018 feminist woke, but it was so broadly drawn, it seemed purposeful to me, and I'm going to decide that I want to think of it that way.

You helped me here! You put me in the space to see what he was rebelling against by writing all the women but Clarisse as cartoonishly insipid. Mildred is Clarisse's opposite. Even their names are campishly different.

I think he's lampooning the Father Knows Best television morals of that era with Mildred and the neighbor who are more concerned about their "idiot box" (Thanks, Mr. Gaiman for reminding me of that term) than anything, including their kids.

So, I just made that all up, and I have no real basis for it, but it didn't feel like real chauvinism to me -- it was way too slapstick and broad.

I could carry this further and make it gel with his whiny letter in the afterward, but I won't bore everyone to tears. I'm satisfied with my own little decision here. I really liked the book, and I liked Clarisse (who I like to call Clarice, like Silence of the Lambs for some reason) and I loved the way Clarisse woke Guy up to all the possibilities and horrors. I just had a hard time squaring that with the treatment of the two main other women in the book. Now I feel better, and I can give it 5 stars without qualms.


message 50: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1025 comments Well, the women in Dandelion Wine and in Martian Chronicles, Bradbury's other most famous books, are similarly dissed. Saying 'it's the era' is, I agree, a lame copout... we've had interesting female characters at least since Jane Austen, yes.

But there are always some ppl who just don't get it. Bradbury and Heinlein are two of the biggest names in SF that are just clueless. Most classic SF is pretty bad. And I think that's just it, they just didn't realize that women were people, that as characters *and as readers* they (we) are worthy of respect.

Too bad, because as you say, the talent is there. Bradbury certainly could have made the extra effort... he just didn't. At least, that's my interpretation of my reading of hundreds of old SF books.


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