In the futuristic novel Fahrenheit 451, the author, Ray Bradbury, expresses several problems that influence the story. Many of these problems have to do with the behavior of the people in the twenty- fourth century society. One major problem is that firemen have been given the job of burning books in order to stop the spreading of ideas, and to cause all of society to reform and therefore be happy. Many people do not agree with this and they try hard to keep books alive, even though they may be killed for it. Guy Montag, who in the beginning of the story is a proud fireman, later doubts his job and joins those who preserve books. One person who teaches him about books is an old man named Faber who is a retired English professor. During a conversation between Montag and Faber, Montag states, “That’s the good part of dying; when you’ve nothing to lose, you run any risk you want”(pg.85). What he means by this is that he is willing to risk his life to help save books for others to read and enjoy. However, Montag’s wife, Mildred, does not care for books as much as Montag because she knows books are illegal and she fears for her life. Mildred tells Montag how afraid she is by saying, “They might come and burn the house and the family. Why should I read? What for?(pg.73)” Montag is upset when he hears this because he sees that there is a problem with burning books. Indeed there is a problem because books allow people to express themselves, learn, dream, and have fun. In a society such as the one found in Fahrenheit 451, people are not allowed to experience any of these things and they are less individual.
Another problem found in Bradbury’s future is that some schools and businesses have been shut down simply because they encourage and promote reading and books. In the novel, books are made to be thought of as evil and are no longer produced. Book companies along with some schools and publishing agencies have been closed due to the ban of books. On page 75 Bradbury tells of the closing of schools by writing, “The old man admitted to being a retired English Professor who had been thrown out upon the world forty years ago when the last liberal arts college shut for lack of students and patronage.(pg.75)” This explains that Faber, along with others, lost their jobs because of books being banned and disallowed. Some books, such as the Bible, are even more illegal than others because they are scarce and promote thought, idea, and reason. “It may be the last copy in this part of the world (pg.76)” is what Montag says about the Bible when he is reasoning with his wife whether or not to turn it in to the Fire Captain. He knows that the book is rare because of the closing of book production companies, and he wants to keep it.
Another big problem with the novels society is that many people are angry, bored, and depressed because they have nothing to do. Many people, including Mildred, have caught on to taking sleeping pills and doing other things that harm the body just to stay occupied, and to not be upset. Montag confronts his wife about overdosing on sleeping pills by saying, “You took all those pills in your bottle last night, didn’t you.(pg.19)” He knows she is unhappy, but like many others in his time he does not know why or even how to help her. Bradbury shows how many people have the same type of problem when the paramedics who save Mildred say, “We get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many starting a few years ago, we had the special machines built.(pg.15)” The special machines mentioned are machines that pump a persons stomach when he or she has overdosed on pills. This problem also shows how books being destroyed has also destroyed many people. Some people with a problem of always taking pills would probably be interested in reading a book if only they were allowed to.
Word Count: 692