Ray Bradbury’s Outlook of the Future
Just by reading the first few lines of the opening paragraph of Fahrenheit 451, we get the feeling of a dystopia right away. Firemen burning books, instead of putting out fires that start in homes. Who ever heard of that? This is crazy thinking right off the start, yet Bradbury carries us through as if we are travelers to this time and place. We are the unseen eyes that see the cataclysmic events that turn Guy Montag’s life upside down. We watch him rise, then fall, then meet with outsiders like himself. We watch, how fugitives are tracked down using a mechanical dog, and how people love to watch the chase on their ‘off the wall’; television sets. Could this be how Bradbury thinks our society is going to turn into? Maybe not as drastic, but maybe the censorship could happen, couldn’t it?
Ray Bradbury is compared to Arthur C. Clarke as a ‘poetic science fiction writer’; (Watt). This is so, because Bradbury takes a more elegant path to laying out his dystopia. People in his story are so into the now, and pleasure for the moment, that they forget the morals and ethics they came from, because they are clouded by smoke. Take for instance the wall-sized televisions. This became the populace’s way of interacting with others with out physically interacting with them. People on TV were your ‘family’;, who would keep you company and be your ‘friend’;. Still, a place where books were burned and houses were supposedly ‘fireproof’;, you have to admit this world is out of whack. If we look at Montag’s wife for instance, we see how entrenched people have become into just being happy, and not carrying for what happens to the ideas that are in books. I think Bradbury is trying to tell us not to rely to heavily on technology or it will consume us. In the future we may take books for granted, because they are the essence of free speech, and free ideologies. By have the books burned, people forget, and have nothing to trace back, only leaving what is now.
While critics believe that Bradbury writes to briefly and does not take the time to develop his story and characters, I believe that if we don’t heed the lessons of this story, or any dystopia story, we may be fated to live them. There may not be a lot of truth and realism to Bradbury’s story, but he sure makes us open our eyes, and makes us think a little bit more about the world around us. By doing this little thing, the book as accomplished its task. Fahrenheit 451 is telling and reminding everyone not to be drawn in to censorship and what the government has to say, but what to they themselves are thinking and feeling and reading.
We get the feeling in the book, that it is not the government that made this society. That it was the people that did it to themselves by choosing not to read books any more, and choosing to live for superficial happiness. Nobody is going around with a gun to their heads saying, ‘Do not read books.’;, but we get the feeling that people fear what is in books. Even if Bradbury chooses not to go into much ‘political detail’; (Watt), the government is basically in control, with people being, in essence, mindless drones or slaves.
According to one critic, Fahrenheit 451, ‘is etched in our minds long after we’ve finished the book’; (Schellenberg), is a fairly accurate remark on the book. After you put down the book, you sit and think, what if the world was like that, then I wouldn’t be holding this book in my hands to begin with, thereby leaving nobody to warn me of the impending danger of censorship.
In conclusion, I think Ray Bradbury is trying to predict and warn us of the dangers that lurk ahead if we keep on continuing to rely on technology and machines, and forget the old ways of doing things, like reading, and go onto easier ways such as the wall-sized TV. Bradbury wants to keep us alert, keep