Monday, October 15, 2012
"Fahrenheit 451" and Why it Works
John and Hank Green announced their book club selection of Fahrenheit 451 this past July with the purpose of getting people to read not only more, but read quality material. This selection came about after the death of author Ray Bradbury, and the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey has sold more copies in three months than Ray Bradbury has sold of all of his books in his lifetime.
When this novel was announced as the book John and Hank would be talking about, I was thrilled and stopped everything to read it. These videos about the novel have helped develop my understanding of the novel, but what I wonder the most, does this plot really work, and if so, why?
Fahrenheit 451 is a story of what happens when books become outlawed, and men are not firefighters, but rather firemen, in that they set fires to books to destroy the "weapons" that books are. Guy Montag is one of these firemen, and begins to struggle with the reality of the treasures that books hold and the consequences of what he's doing. Although this is an epic tale, is this dystopian novel believable, and if so, what makes it work?
In my opinion, Farenheit 451 does have a working plot, in that the characters are believable, and we can see what happens to the characters happening to our own society, because it already has. Mildred is Montag's wife, and she becomes so engrossed in the world of the "family" the parlor walls contain, she forgets reality entirely. These characters provide a false sense of closeness that is easy and more simple than what life truly proves to be.
We see this in our own world everyday. How long can we go without our iPhones, our laptops, or our television? We become so easily pulled in by technology, it even causes fatal accidents that can be seen in crashes caused by texting and driving, where we are more captivated by our phones than our lives on the line.
Fahrenheit 451, ultimately, has an unrealistic plot, but it works because it has such relatable characters and situations that make it work. When you can give readers a story that they can clearly envision and put their minds into as something they've known themselves, it provides a reading experience that can set out to touch the lives of their audience to make an impression on contemporary society and the minds of the readers.