Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451

Summary
  1. Guy Montag lives in in a world where books are banned and any homes found to contain them are burned by the firemen. Censorship is ubiquitous, people are stimulated constantly so that they cannot and do not think. Guy sees how empty his life is after meeting Clarisse and soon after steals a book. He is found out by the chief fireman, Beatty, who is then forced to burn Guy’s house down but Guy manages to escape. He eventually joins a group of convicts (intellectuals) who have each memorized some great works. The city Montag just escaped is bombed to oblivion during the war and this group is determined to search for survivors and rebuild society.
Key Takeaways
  1. “You always dread the unfamiliar…We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.”
  2. “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”
  3. “Cram them full of noncombustible 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.”
  4. “No, no, it’s not books at all you’re looking for! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us. Of course you couldn’t know this, of course you still can’t understand what I mean when I say all this. You are intuitively right, that’s what counts. Three things are missing. Number one: Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture…Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies…And the second? Leisure. Oh, but we’ve plenty of off-hours. Off-hours, yes. But time to think?…And number three: the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two.”
  5. “We’re nothing more than dust jackets for books, of no significance otherwise.”
  6. “But that’s the wonderful thing about man; he never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again, because he knows very well it is important and worth the doing.”
What I got out of it
  1. A prophetic book which I think describes today’s world to some degree. People take pride in always “busy” – almost often unnecessarily – that they don’t stop and think about what they’re actually doing or why. Also, there are so many different factions that need to be pleased that writing can easily become very “vanilla tapioca” as Bradbury puts it. On the other hand, Bradbury also pointed out that these different groups and interests help ensure that there never is too much censorship.

Read Fahrenheit-451

  • “How rarely did other people’s faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought? What incredible power of identification the girl [Clarisse] had…”
  • “Mildred came in, humming. She was surprised. Why’d you do that? He looked with dismay at the floor. We burnt an old woman with her books. It’s a good thing the rug’s washable.”
  • “There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”
  • “The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that! All the minor minor minorities with their navels to be kept clean. Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did. Magazines became a nice blend of vanilla tapioca. Books, so the damned snobbish critics said, were dishwater. No wonder books stopped selling, the critics said. But the public, knowing what it wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive.”
  • “That’s the good part of dying; when you’ve nothing to lose, you run any risk you want.”
  • “The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are.”
  • “Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore”
  • “I paid for all this – how? Playing the stock market, of course, the last refuge in the world for the dangerous intellectual out of a job.”
  • “I don’t want to change sides and just be told what to do. There’s no reason to change if I do that.”
  • “And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for all the things he did.”

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