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Kell

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

How would you rate this book? (Dont forget to say why in the thread!)  

5 members have voted

  1. 1. How would you rate this book? (Dont forget to say why in the thread!)

    • 5/5 - Top-notch reading!
    • 4/5 - Excellent
    • 3/5 - Pretty good
    • 2/5 - OK, but nothing to write home about
    • 1/5 - Dull as ditchwater
      0
    • 0/5 - Utter dross!
      0


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THIS THREAD WILL OPEN ON



1ST JANUARY

 

IT IS ASSUMED YOU HAVE READ THIS BOOK BEFORE READING THIS THREAD, THEREFORE SPOILER TAGS MAY NOT HAVE BEEN USED IN ORDER TO FASCILITATE EASIER AND MORE OPEN DISCUSSION

 

This book is available cheaply from Amazon

(please use the link at the top right of this web page)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury:

Synopsis:

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books. The classic novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 is part of the Voyager Classic series. It stands alongside Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization's enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity. Bradbury's powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to creat a novel which, forty years on from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock.

 

SOME BASIC QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

1. Who was your favourite character and why?

2. Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

3. Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

4. Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

5. Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

 

QUESTIONS FOR FAHRENHEIT 451 BY RAY BRADBURY (from Reading Group Guides):

QUESTIONS WILL BE POSTED THROUGHOUT THE MONTH

1. Why would society make "being a pedestrian" a crime? (Clarisse tells Montag that her uncle was once arrested for this.)

2. One suicide and one near-suicide occur in this book. One woman, who shuns books but loves TV and driving fast in her car, anesthetizes herself,; "We get these cases nine or ten a night," says the medical technician. Another woman, who cherishes her books, sets herself on fire with them; "These fanatics always try suicide," says the fire captain. Why would two people who seem to be so different from each other try to take their own lives? Why does suicide happen so frequently in Montag's society?"

 

3. Captain Beatty quotes history, scripture, poetry, philosophy. He is obviously a well-read man. Why hasn't he been punished? And why does he view the books he's read with such contempt?

 

4. Why do you think the firemen's rulebook credited Benjamin Franklin-- writer, publisher, political leader, inventor, ambassador--as being the first fireman?

 

5. Since the government is so opposed to readers, thinkers, walkers, and slow drivers, why does it allow the procession of men along the railroad tracks to exist?

 

 

INFO ON THE AUTHOR (from Fantastic Fiction):

Ray Bradbury, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and poet, was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. He graduated from a Los Angeles high school in 1938.Although his formal education ended there, he became a "student of life," selling newspapers on L.A. street corners from 1938 to 1942, spending his nights in the public library and his days at the typewriter.He became a full-time writer in 1943, and contributed numerous short stories to periodicals before publishing a collection of them, Dark Carnival, in 1947.

 

His reputation as a writer of courage and vision was established with the publication of The Martian Chronicles in 1950, which describes the first attempts of Earth people to conquer and colonize Mars, and the unintended consequences.Next came The Illustrated Man and then, in 1953, Fahrenheit 451, which many consider to be Bradbury's masterpiece, a scathing indictment of censorship set in a future world where the written word is forbidden.In an attempt to salvage their history and culture, a group of rebels memorize entire works of literature and philosophy as their books are burned by the totalitarian state.Other works include The October Country, Dandelion Wine, A Medicine for Melancholy, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I Sing the Body Electric!, Quicker Than the Eye, and Driving Blind.In all, Bradbury has published more than thirty books, close to 600 short stories, and numerous poems, essays, and plays.His short stories have appeared in more than 1,000 school curriculum "recommended reading" anthologies.Mr. Bradbury's eagerly awaited new novel, From the Dust Returned, will be published by William Morrow at Halloween 2001.Morrow will release One More For the Road, a new collection Bradbury stories, at Christmas 2001.

 

Ray Bradbury's work has been included in four Best American Short Story collections. He has been awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, the PEN Center USA West Lifetime Achievement Award, among others.In November 2000, the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters was conferred upon Mr. Bradbury at the 2000 National Book Awards Ceremony in New York City.

 

Ray Bradbury has never confined his vision to the purely literary. He has been nominated for an Academy Award (for his animated film Icarus Montgolfier Wright), and has won an Emmy Award (for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree).He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's Ray Bradbury Theater. He was the creative consultant on the United States Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1982 he created the interior metaphors for the Spaceship Earth display at Epcot Center, Disney World, and later contributed to the conception of the Orbitron space ride at Euro-Disney, France.

 

Married since 1947, Mr. Bradbury and his wife Maggie live in Los Angeles with their four beloved cats.They have four daughters and eight grandchildren.

 

On the occasion of his 80th birthday in August 2000, Bradbury said, "The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me.The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve.In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me.I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you'll come along."

OTHER NOVELS BY THE AUTHOR:

1957 Dandelion Wine (1957)

1962 Something Wicked this Way Comes (1962)

1965 Autumn People (1965)

1972 The Halloween Tree (1972)

1985 Death Is a Lonely Business (1985)

1990 A Graveyard for Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities (1990)

1992 Green Shadows, White Whale (1992)

1998 Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines: A Fable (1998)

1999 From the Dust Returned: A Family Remembrance (1999)

2002 Let's All Kill Constance (2002)

2006 Farewell Summer (2006)

Edited by Kell

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The thread is now open! However, I shall let everyone recover from their New Year celebrations before badgering you all with questions. :D

 

I'll open with my brief thoughts on the book:

 

This is rather an unusual read with a very frightening premise - no books and no thoughts, only vacuous entertainment via the wall screens and a "happiness" of sorts. I found it an easy enough read in some ways (it's not very long), but quite emotionally taxing - I was almost in tears over the book burning. Worth a read if you enjoy distopian drama, or even just to be able to say you have - it's important to remember that books have power and this really brings it home.

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I found this powerful and thought provoking. There were passages that made me feel uneasy, as I could see parallels with modern society. The unquestioning attitude of the populace, their acceptance of mediocre entertainment and the dominance of the media I found unsettling. I have 3 favourite characters - Clarissa, Montag and Faber. Each in their own way were rebelling against the 'norm'. I didn't dislike the Fire Chief Beatty, more felt pity for him as he was a puppet imo.

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I hope everyone has fully recomvered from their New Year celebrations!

 

OK, time to start with the questions (which I lifted from Reading Group Guides).

 

1. Why would society make "being a pedestrian" a crime? (Clarisse tells Montag that her uncle was once arrested for this.)

 

 

I found this concept rather an interesting one and when it was first brought up I wondered how/why on earth such a thing could be banned. Then I realised I was pondering this whilst walking down the street and realised that was exactly the point! I was thinking while walking around because I didn't have to concentrate on driving a vehicle (well, I was pushing a pushchair, but that doesn't take a great deal of concentration - LOL!). If society is being encouraged not to think, then passing laws against aimlessly walking around would most lkely be a very natural extension of that.

 

I know that in some places people are though of as being quite crazy if they decide to walk anywhere. I remember reading a bok set in LA and the main character got some really odd looks and comments when they announced their intention to walk somewhere rather than take a car. No offence to folks in LA, but it's the home of the movie industry - an industry that specialises in (often) mindless entertainment. In Fahrenheit 451, people seem to be tuned in to visual or audio entertainment 24/7 and it reminded me of that...

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Making being a pedestrian a crime, fits in with the pressure not to think and also control of the population, just in case they had 'incorrect' thoughts.

Edited by sirinrob

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A bit nervous about posting :D, not used to discussion/debating, so i hope i'm contributing in a relevant way. Here goes...:roll:

 

I agree with you both. Having people drive everywhere like you said Kell, forces you to concentrate solely on that. I guess also, if your movements are restricted in that you aren't allowed to walk about freely, you're less likely to meet people. Especially those coming from a different background to yourself. Casual conversations can't be struck up as easily and like you say there's no exchange of thoughts and ideas.

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I started my re-read of Fahrenheit 451 while I was sitting in a waiting room today. I had forgotten to bring my notebook so instead I had to type all my thoughts in abbreviated form on my mobile so I could follow them through later!

 

So, here are my observations from the first half a dozen pages (which touches on Kell's question above). I can see it's going to take me a while to get through this book if I continue taking so many notes!

 

When Montag is first walking home, we are told that 'He walked toward the corner, thinking little at all about nothing in particular.' On the very next page, as he sees Clarisse for the first time, we are treated to a lengthy description of her own walk down the street, in which it becomes immediately apparent that she is different to Montag. Her face had 'a kind of gentle hunger that touched over everything with tireless curiosity.'

 

This initial meeting has a profound effect on Montag, and as he arrives home he finds himself thinking, and then thinks of himself as an idiot when he realises he's been thinking.

 

One question that springs to mind from this initial meeting is: what is Clarisse's purpose in engaging Montag in conversation? I can't remember if this is cleared up later or not. Does she have some motive? Is there something she can see in Montag that gives her hope for him? It seems a little risky to me to open up so freely to a man who is in a seemingly dangerous position in society (because he's a fireman).

 

Nightingale, that's an excellent point about the restriction of pedestrian movement so there is less chance of people engaging in conversation and exchanging thoughts and ideas. :roll:

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I think by talking to Montag, and he reacting positively to her by looking at the moon and looking at her when she speaks, Clarissa feels she has met someone who has time for other people. He certainly finds the "family" unbearable and the seashells stupid i.e the audio/visual opiates most of the populace seem to be on.

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One question that springs to mind from this initial meeting is: what is Clarisse's purpose in engaging Montag in conversation? I can't remember if this is cleared up later or not. Does she have some motive? Is there something she can see in Montag that gives her hope for him? It seems a little risky to me to open up so freely to a man who is in a seemingly dangerous position in society (because he's a fireman).

I remember wondering (thinking - LOL!) when I read this bit if she was a "test" - perhaps someone had noticed his recent changes, however slight, and was testing his loyalty and commitment to being a fireman - it would certainly explain why a young woman would approach someone out of the blue and engage in a conversation of this sort with him, especially when she knows he's a fireman...

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Your idea Kell is a possibility, but reading that first encounter between Montag and Clarissa, I get the impression she's curious about him being a fireman and through the encounter acts as a catalyst to set him thinking.

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Ooh, interesting! I suppose they would have 'eyes' around the place, and it's quite likely that someone would have noticed Montag acting suspiciously. I can't wait to get further into the book. :roll:

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IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE WHOLE BOOK, DO NOT READ THE REST OF THIS POST! (I won't use spoilers, as stated in the opening post).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wondered if Clarisse's "death" was actually more a "relocation" and hat she was really a spy... Montag was already upset about the fire he had attended that day and I wondered if she had been "placed" there immediately afterwards to catch him off-guard and find out what was running through his head, if anything at all...

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Ah can see your logic now Kell as he had sensed he was being watched, and later events with Beatty like the lecture and the incident with the hound, when Beatty smiles wryly adds to your conjecture. Also fairly early on the Clarissa's family "disappear", which Montag notices because their house is not lit up like when he met Clarissa.

 

That said though in the play and opera that Bradbury wrote based on, 'Fahrenheit 451', he does bring Clarissa back in at the end. The plot thickens....

Edited by sirinrob

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Ooh, a play and opera? I had no idea! I shall have to look that out. I'm already planning ot have a look at the film... and apparently there's a remake set for 2012!

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I read the book back in 2008, hope that is okay? :roll:

 

1. Who was your favourite character and why?

 

I liked Granger, I liked the idea of him memorising books for future readers and the fact that he believed it was possible for change within their society. I liked Montag, he hid books, which was highly dangerous but he still did it, he had a under~stated strength which appeared when necessary.

 

2. Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

 

I enjoyed Montag meeting Granger, Granger knew so much and I felt he was opening Montag's eyes to the world that was and what the world could be.

 

I disliked the part with Montag's wife attempted suicide, the paramedics (or techinicians) were so cruel and unfeeling, they did not care why this had happened.

 

3. Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

 

This is not the first book I have read in the dystopian genre, I have always had a interest in it,this book did encouraged me to read more books by Ray Bradbury.

4. Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

 

The idea of book~burning was something I struggled with, the idea of all of those words being wasted and no one ever reading them.

5. Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

 

Very much so, I love reading and the book is very poignant because it shows what happens when something that individual loves is taken away.

6. Why would society make "being a pedestrian" a crime? (Clarisse tells Montag that her uncle was once arrested for this.)

 

I think 'being a pedestrian' means witnessing something, Clarisse's uncle has seen something that he should not have seen.

 

 

:D

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Yes the arrest of the uncle for being a pedestrian does suggest he saw or more likely heard something he shouldn't have. One of the points Bradbury makes is no one talks to anyone except in acceptable clich

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Yes the arrest of the uncle for being a pedestrian does suggest he saw or more likely heard something he shouldn't have. One of the points Bradbury makes is no one talks to anyone except in acceptable clich

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I think it was all very superficial, though - nobody ever talked about anything that had any meaning (just the "family" etc) so nobody actually really knew anyone else properly - they were just faces with names. Even between Montag and his wife there was a distance and lack of proper relationship - Montag couldn't even remember where and when they'd met - meeting your spouse would seem to me to be a significant event and worth remembering - after all, you intend to spend the rest of your life with that person.

 

I actualy found myself wondering if partnerships were "arranged" and just how much influence the Powers that Be might have when it came to blurring memories etc. Although it's not mentioned at all in the book, it was something that occured to me as a possibile explanation for why Montag couldn't remember. It would also be another reason nobody is supposed to think - if they start thinking, they'll start realising they don't really know the people they're living with...

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Since we're on a roll, I thought I'd post another question:

2. One suicide and one near-suicide occur in this book. One woman, who shuns books but loves TV and driving fast in her car, anesthetizes herself,; "We get these cases nine or ten a night," says the medical technician. Another woman, who cherishes her books, sets herself on fire with them; "These fanatics always try suicide," says the fire captain. Why would two people who seem to be so different from each other try to take their own lives? Why does suicide happen so frequently in Montag's society?"

 

 

With Montag's wife, I wondered if her suicide was out of plain boredom. Something is missing in her life and she doesn't know what it is. Removing books from the general populace hasn't increased their happiness - it's just meant that constant mindless entertainment is required and sometimes that just doesn't cut it.

 

The other woman, on the other hand, is having something taken away from her - something she considers as vital as air. Take away her books and you might as well be taking away the air she needs to breathe. In her mind, a life without books isn't a life worth living.

 

I wondered if there was actually a third suicide - the bEATTY. It seemed to me he was willing Montag to kill him, goading Montag till he turned the flame thrower on him. He was obviously well-read as he quoted a great deal. Perhaps he was tired of leading a double life?

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I think most if not all the populace were unhappy - Mildred, though she denied it, was desperately unhappy, the woman who burned with her books would rather that then live without books. Beatty is a suicide, as he realises the double standards he lives. From my reading of his lecture to Montag, he doesnt believe what he is saying, more hes a parrot and deep down realises that, hence he lets Montag kill him. The society depicted is rather bleak, many are unhappy ref mrs phelps reaction to the poetry that montag reads to her, but somehow they dont realise, bar Clarissa, Montag and Faber.

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I think on some level Beatty wanted to die because he did not have much to live for, he had reached his limit.

 

Montag's wife I agree, her suicide attempt was due to boredom, she knew she would be saved and therefore have something to talk about.

 

The other woman's suicide is so dead set, she does it for a reason, they have taken what she loves, something she has always depended on.

 

I had another thought (thanks Kell), they all talk about the same things, the family and other mindless things because that is all they have to focus on, do you think that if the situation changes (as it does at the end of the book), will they welcome it or are they satisified in their own bubble?

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I think they will resist the change as it moves them out of their comfort zone, but with the ruling order demolished they will have to change - painful as it will be - thats if any are left of course.

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I think they will resist the change as it moves them out of their comfort zone, but with the ruling order demolished they will have to change - painful as it will be - thats if any are left of course.

 

Of course but I think they will stay in their ways for as long as possible:roll:

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This initial meeting has a profound effect on Montag, and as he arrives home he finds himself thinking, and then thinks of himself as an idiot when he realises he's been thinking.

 

One question that springs to mind from this initial meeting is: what is Clarisse's purpose in engaging Montag in conversation? I can't remember if this is cleared up later or not. Does she have some motive? Is there something she can see in Montag that gives her hope for him? It seems a little risky to me to open up so freely to a man who is in a seemingly dangerous position in society (because he's a fireman).

 

Nightingale, that's an excellent point about the restriction of pedestrian movement so there is less chance of people engaging in conversation and exchanging thoughts and ideas. :lol:

 

Thanks, Kylie :roll:.

 

Just going back to this question. It was suggested that Clarisse may have been a spy or something, so i re-read that part of the book. I like to think she wasn't. I think she was genuinely interested in people and came from a family that asked questions, exchanged stories and enjoyed banter. It was in her natured to be chatty and flighty. She seemed to actively seek out Firemen to speak with too. She mentioned that Montag was 'not like the others' as they would ignore or threaten her. I'd say she wasn't intimated by them at all. She enjoys studying things around her closely, maybe, she saw Firemen in general as a 'challenge' and wanted to figure out what made them tick.

Edited by nightingale
spelling

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That was part of the reason that made me wonder if she was a spy - why would someone risk talking that way to not just one Fireman, but to multiple Firemen? That's just asking for trouble. As for Montag, we discover shortly afterwards that he really is different from other Firemen in that he's been hoarding books for more than a year prior to the start of the novel, so it was entirely conceiveable that he was being watched if others had picked up on even a subtle change in him.

 

I'm still not 100% certain either way about Clarisse's motives...

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