Burning Books in Fahrenheit 451

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  • 0:03 Censorship and…
  • 1:07 Ideas from Books
  • 1:50 Burner of Books
  • 2:35 Burning of Books
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson, we'll discuss why the books are being burned in Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451.' We'll discuss the importance of ideas in books and the effectiveness of this society burning the books to control its citizens.

Censorship and Fahrenheit 451

Censorship, or the suppression of materials thought to be subversive to society, has been an important debate for centuries. It's still discussed today, particularly when it comes to the Internet and what should or should not be censored. The idea of censorship is one of the main themes of Fahrenheit 451. The story involves a dystopian society where the government censors all information, knowledge, and ideas when it comes to its citizens. The argument for censorship is especially strong when it comes to children. We want the children of our family, community, nation, and world to grow up with proper ideas and values. We don't allow children to watch movies that have been given a certain rating, or we put filters on the Internet to block sites we don't want children to see.

This same censorship happens in Fahrenheit 451, except that it is the government that controls all of the information that the entire public is able to access. They control anything that comes on the television. They decide that books are too dangerous and might teach the public oppositional ideas, so they burn all books.

Ideas from Books

How can a book be dangerous? A book doesn't force you to do anything. In fact, you can read a book and completely disagree with everything in it. However, some people would say a book is dangerous because it makes us think and question our life and society. In Fahrenheit 451, the government isn't able to control what conclusions the public may come to after reading a book.

So, after reading Fahrenheit 451, we may start to question: 'Should we have censorship?' Maybe it's something that's crossed your mind before. Now that the subject's been brought up again, you can start thinking of the possibilities that might result from censorship. If someone can control your thoughts, they can control you, but if they lose control of your thoughts, then they lose control of you.

Burner of Books

The name Fahrenheit 451 refers to the temperature required to burn the pages in books. We think of firemen as people who put out fires, but that's not the case in this story. Instead, they are the people in charge of burning the books. Guy Montag, the story's main protagonist, is a fireman.

Any time books are discovered, not only are the books burned, but the entire house is burned. This not only destroys any 'ideas' that can be found in books, it also sends a message to anyone else who may be thinking about keeping books.

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