“A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon.”— Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451”
Most people read “Fahrenheit 451” in a middle school language arts class. I recently remembered reading this book and I decided to re-read it. Classical books like this one really are timeless, and I have found that you can learn new life lessons each time you read them.
“Fahrenheit 451” revolves around Guy Montag. In this dystopian society, books have been outlawed and if any books are found, “firemen” come and burn the books. Montag is one of those firemen who goes to people’s houses and burns books and people who stand in their way. The law is strict and people can only learn what the government wants them to learn.
Montag ends up accidentally reading a line from a book. Out of curiosity, he ends up stealing the book before burning down the house. From that one encounter with knowledge, he begins to change, and starts to think about and question his life.
This novel delves into the spirit of resistance and the desire for knowledge when faced with conformity and ignorance. Ray Bradbury writes from a stance of why literature is important for individuals, and society as a whole.
The first time I read this book, I understood basic themes such as how Montag changed throughout the novel with insight from his new friends, Clarisse and Granger. However, when I read this book for the second time, I realized that the analytical locks put on us, or the locks we put on ourselves, are keeping us from the growth and knowledge we can achieve. That is just one example of something I learned from this novel. There are many themes and there are many lessons to be learned from this classical book. I highly recommend journeying with Montag as he develops his character and as he realizes that perhaps firemen aren’t meant to start fires, but instead they’re meant to put them out.