By Maxwell Nettler
Fahrenheit 451 is a riveting science fiction novel that depicts the way people can be alienated through technology. Although it was published over 50 years ago, many of its themes hold true today. In fact, these messages may even be more relevant now than they were at the time of its publication as we are surrounded by new innovations in technology. Bradbury wrote this book in response to some of the changes he witnessed in his day, such as the invention of the radio and its ability to seclude people from society. He once explained in an interview that he wrote Fahrenheit as a warning about “a world that might evolve in four or five decades.” It seems he possessed keen insight, as many of the technologies described in his novel strongly resemble the electronics we use today.
Bradbury’s classic tells the story of Guy Montag, a Fireman in 21st century America. However, these Firemen have a very different purpose than those of our society. Guy Montag and his fellow Firemen have been given an all-important duty: starting fires. Ironically, in this bizarre future, Firemen burn things – specifically books. The government has banned all books and, oddly, the majority of Americans are not concerned about this; in fact, they actually initiated the abandonment. Montag soon becomes suspicious about his society, after meeting his eccentric new neighbor, Clarisse. She, along with his wife’s overdose on sleep medication, causes him to challenge most of what he’s been taught about his world. His nonconformist attitude, results in his discovery of what his society once was and the history of how it morphed into what it has become.
Fahrenheit 451 should serve as a crucial reminder to our generation and generations to come that technology can be dangerous. It is so easy to allow our screens to consume us, often making us lose focus on what is truly significant. Since we currently live in a world engulfed in materialism, this novel helps us to remember that it’s okay to glance away from your smartphone or computer. In fact. stepping outside might be a much-needed change. Ultimately, Fahrenheit 451 prohibits us from forgetting the necessity of marching out into the world and leading a life of both meaning and impact.