Discuss the idea of conformity versus individuality as presented in "Fahrenheit 451".

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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The government in "Fahrenheit 451" wanted people to conform because it's much easier to control people who are doing what the power group wants them to do.  Controlling individuals is much more difficult than controlling a group.  From Clarisse, early in the story, we learn about the government's desire for everyone to conform.  She tells Montag that she is forced to go to a psychiatrist because she would rather wander by herself among nature than hang out with kids her age and participate in their activities.  Beatty brings out this idea, too, when he is talking with Montag the day Montag stays home from work.  Beatty says that society doesn't want to offend anyone so books were made politically correct, thus making everything bland and neutral.  That blandness led to conformity.  The government encourages people to all do the same things; engage in the same activities.  Anyone different was cast out of society, literally, like the book people. In the 1950's, when the book was written, censorship was an issue, in large part because of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, and his communist witch-hunts.  It was easier to be bland and blend in than to be an individual and speak out.  Bradbury addresses this issue with the book and shows the dangers of this type of thinking.

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