Genre of Fahrenheit 451

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 is a well-known science-fiction writer of the 20th century. While ''Fahrenheit 451'' is considered one of his greatest sci-fi novels, it also falls under the genre of dystopian literature.


We often like to think about things in terms of categories. What similarities do different people or animals or objects have in common? In literature, these different categories are referred to as genres. Books, poems, reference works, and essays are placed into genres for a number of different reasons. Perhaps they represent a certain literary movement, have common themes, or were written during a specific period of time. In the case of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, the novel falls under two genres: science-fiction and dystopian literature.

Fahrenheit 451 as Science-Fiction

Science-fiction has two main characteristics. First, the story usually takes place some time in the future. The author or creator may share a specific date with the reader, as for example in the movie Back to the Future, which takes place in the year 2015 (the movie came out in 1985). The author may also choose to leave the future date ambiguous or unknown to the reader, like in The Hunger Games. You know that the story happens some time in the future, but not exactly when.

Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in the early 1950s. Although he does not provide the reader with an exact date, he does make a reference to two atomic wars that happened after the year 1990. As a reader, you know the major events of the book take place sometime after that date.

The second important defining feature of the science-fiction genre is the description of technology. The new and exciting technologies may be based on something that already exists, or something completely imagined.

Fahrenheit 451 includes several examples of futuristic technology. Homes in Bradbury's novel feature wall-to-wall television screens. This might not sound too unrealistic today, where we live in a world with massive flat-screen LED televisions! In the 1950s, however, these television walls were unheard of. Early televisions were like large pieces of furniture and most homes did not have a color TV set. Bradbury also describes a machine called the mechanical hound. Modeled after a search dog, the mechanical hound is an advanced robot that can track victims, recognize various smells, and kill quickly.

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