Fahrenheit 451

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Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury which was first published in a shorter form as "The Fireman" (Galaxy Science Fiction, Vol. 1 No. 5, February 1951). The short novel presents a future American society in which the masses are hedonistic and critical thought through reading is outlawed.

The central character, Guy Montag, is employed as a "fireman" (which, in this future, means "bookburner"). The novel's title refers to the supposed temperature at which book paper combusts. Although sources contemporary with the novel's writing gave the temperature as 450 °C (842 °F),[1] Bradbury is believed to have thought "Fahrenheit" made for a better title;[2][page needed] however, in an introduction to the 40th anniversary edition of the novel, Bradbury states that a person he spoke with at the local fire department said "Book-paper catches fire at 451 degrees Fahrenheit". The "firemen" burn them "for the good of humanity". Written in the early years of the Cold War, the novel is a critique of what Bradbury saw as issues in American society of the era.[3]


Plot summary

Fahrenheit 451 takes place in an unspecified future time (some dialogue places it after 1990)[4] in a hedonistic anti-intellectual America that has completely abandoned self-control. This America is filled with lawlessness in the streets ranging from teenagers crashing cars into people to firemen at a station who set their 'mechanical hound' to hunt various animals by their scent for the simple and grotesque pleasure of watching them die. Anyone caught reading or possessing illegal books is, at the minimum, confined to a mental hospital while the books are burned by the firemen. Illegal books mainly include famous works of literature, such as Walt Whitman and William Faulkner, as well as the Bible and all historical texts.

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