Fahrenheit 451 Setting: Quotes & Description

Fahrenheit 451 Setting: Quotes & Description
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  • 0:03 The Setting
  • 0:30 Time Period
  • 1:25 Location
  • 2:09 Bradbury & Setting
  • 4:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christina Boggs

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

If you've ever read 'Fahrenheit 451', you know that Ray Bradbury includes rich details to describe the book's setting. Despite this fact, determining the actual when and where of the book can be tricky! This lesson explores the setting of 'Fahrenheit 451'.

The Setting

One of the most important components of any good story is the setting - in other words, when and where all of the action happens. For some authors, the setting is seemingly unimportant; the reader may have a vague of idea about where the book takes place. For authors like Ray Bradbury, the setting is practically a character in its own right. Bradbury paints a picture of a futuristic world filled with technology, violence, and mind-control.

Time Period

Few books embody the genre of science fiction as well as Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Like all good science fiction novels, Fahrenheit 451 takes place at some point in the distant future. But when in the future does Bradbury's novel actually take place?

Bradbury doesn't include an explicit date for the goings-on in Fahrenheit 451, but he does give readers a clue about the general time frame. According to main character, Guy Montag, 'Every hour so many damn things in the sky! How in hell did those bombers get up there every single second of our lives! Why doesn't someone want to talk about it! We've started and won two atomic wars since 1990!'

At a minimum, readers know that Fahrenheit 451 takes place sometime after 1990. The story may take place in the later 1900s or well into the 21st century.

Location

Like the exact date, Bradbury leaves the physical location of Fahrenheit 451 to readers' imaginations. Bradbury references major U.S. cities, like Chicago and St. Louis, so it's safe to assume that the story takes place in the United States. The location of Montag's place of residence, however, is unknown.

Bradbury's ambiguous 'where' was done for a specific reason. Fahrenheit 451 warns readers about the dangers of censorship and technology in the wrong hands. By leaving the exact location of the novel vague, this allows readers to picture the events of the book happening anywhere. Los Angeles, New York City, Topeka, Orlando . . . the possibilities are endless.

Bradbury & Setting

Based on Bradbury's descriptions, readers get a strong sense of the setting. For example what's considered normal and commonplace. For starters, people are completely consumed by technology and the rapidity of life. Billboards stretch for hundreds of yards because cars whiz by them so quickly. Guy Montag's neighbor Clarisse McClellan explains, 'I sometimes think drivers don't know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly . . . If you showed a driver a green blur, Oh yes! he'd say, that's grass! A pink blur! That's a rose garden!'

When people aren't zipping around in their speedy cars, they're at home sitting in their television parlors. Instead of four walls, living rooms are made up of massive television screens that completely surround the viewer. 'A great thunderstorm of sound gushed from the walls. Music bombarded him at such an immense volume that his bones were almost shaken from their tendons . . . '

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