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Is there a direct connection between Ray Bradbury's life and his novel Fahrenheit 451?

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aneesh46 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 21, 2012 at 8:51 PM via web

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Is there a direct connection between Ray Bradbury's life and his novel Fahrenheit 451?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:23 PM (Answer #1)

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While Ray Bradbury was a science-fiction author, a strong sense of anti-technological sentiment pervades many of his works. Fahrenheit 451, most often read as a criticism of censorship, was intended by the author to be a criticism of the way that technology -- specifically mass media -- separates and alienates people. The most important image from the book is the wall-sized television screens, with meaningless programming that people regard as "family." His anecdote of seeing a woman walking with radio earphones, almost unaware of her husband or anything else around her, became the "seashell" radios in the book.

And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind. The room was indeed empty. Every night the waves came in and bore her off on their great tides of sound, floating her, wide-eyed, toward morning.
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

Bradbury himself continued this theme in his later years. In interviews, he spoke out against the Internet and what he called "unnecessary machines."

"It's distracting," [Bradbury said]. "It's meaningless; it's not real. It's in the air somewhere."
(Steinhaur, NYTimes.com)

While the book grew out of Bradbury's views on technology, this does not mean that he was anti-progress. Instead, Bradbury was against the isolation of the individual in the collective; while the necessary contradictions of the individual mind are important, the socialization of the individual into society was equally important. Ironically, the characters in Fahrenheit 451 are collectivists living apart from each other; they have the same opinions but almost never interact. Bradbury intended the book, as in his own life, to represent the dangers of becoming dependent on technology for all of one's passions and interests, losing the vital interaction with other people that makes up societal communication.

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