Fahrenheit 451 as a Prediction for the Future

Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

Ray Bradbury's ''Fahrenheit 451'' is a very popular science-fiction novel, but did you know that much of what he imagined in the book has actually happened in real life? This lesson explores the predictive elements of ''Fahrenheit 451''.

Science-Fiction and Predicting the Future

Science-fiction is a very popular genre for books, television, and movies. Sci-fi is characterized by futuristic societies and awesome new technologies yet to be invented or discovered. People look to science-fiction as a way to escape and to imagine.

While some futuristic worlds portrayed in science-fiction seem like awesome places to live, others are overwhelmingly negative. Perhaps society has been poisoned by excessive use of technology, or maybe the government uses it to control the people. These two scenarios are both the case in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

When Bradbury wrote the book in the early 1950s, many of the things he described seemed improbable, if not virtually impossible. However, the world we live in today resembles the one Bradbury described in his novel 60+ years earlier. Many people consider Fahrenheit 451 to be a pretty accurate prediction of the future.

Technology in Fahrenheit 451 and Today

Bradbury's fictional novel Fahrenheit 451 includes many new technologies that did not exist during the 1950s. Much of what he described, however, actually exists today.

Televisions

As you may know, the life of Bradbury's characters centers around television screens embedded in their walls. In some instances, the screens make up the entire side of a room. It's where the characters get their news, information, and entertainment.

While this may sound pretty similar to how people use televisions today, in the 1950s this was not the case. At the time, televisions were growing in popularity, but they were not the central focus of daily life. Not to mention, 1950s televisions were much smaller, and more like pieces of furniture. Bradbury's description of futuristic televisions are very much like the ones we watch today. Most new televisions on the market have flat screens and are pretty massive in size.

Seashells and Thimble Radios

Characters in Fahrenheit 451 walk around with 'seashells' and 'thimble radios' in their ears. These devices constantly bombard the person wearing them with music and information. Sound familiar? Today, people use earbuds to listen to music or to take phone calls. Similar to earbuds, people also use bluetooth headsets to communicate with one another instead of putting a physical phone to their ear.

Communication

In Bradbury's novel, people communicate through the televisions on the walls in their home. Today, can you think of a place where people communicate through a wall? Social media websites and apps like Facebook use a digital 'wall' where people can talk to each other. While Bradbury's novel doesn't talk about Facebook, it does predict that the ways people talk and stay in touch with each other would not only change, but be influenced and dictated by technology.

Social Commentary

Fahrenheit 451 includes many predictions about future technology, but it also predicted the ways society would change in response to technology. In Bradbury's book, the characters are out of touch with each other. They spend more time listening to their 'seashells' and 'thimble radios' than talking. One of the few ways people spend time together is watching the television… but watching it in silence is not the same thing as interacting!

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