Author – Ray Bradbury
Tone – Dystopian, futuristic, pessimistic
Alternate title – When the world begins to burn
In the book, ‘Fahrenheit 451’, author Ray Bradbury imagines a dystopian world where reading or owning books is deemed illegal. The modern firemen aren’t the typical lifeguards who save people from burning buildings rather they burn things to the ground, especially books and sometimes the librarians with them. There is however one peculiar fireman called, Guy Montag, which in German translates Monday, who questions the very meaning of his actions. He goes on to realize that no one in his world does anything with any meaning let alone any feelings attached to their actions. This kind of attitude is shown by the doctors towards their patients, wives towards their husbands, and mothers towards their children and it shakes him to his core. That leads him to abandon everything he formed his identity with and burn it to ashes, including his boss. Ray Bradbury makes a very interesting point here that no one can live without questioning the meaning of his existence at least once in his entire lifetime. The world painted by the author is devoid of such meaning. This very meaninglessness is bound to make a fireman go crazy and burn the whole world down, if not for books.
Bradbury uses books to symbolize the only thing left with meaning and human feelings attached to them. He also interestingly uses fire to symbolize the indomitable human spirit, be that when the librarian torched herself along with the books when Montag poured that burning kerosene on Beatty or the bonfire in the end when he joins the squad of the elite. The book has a good ending ‘preservation of knowledge despite the Armageddon’ has shown to be the ultimate goal of humankind.