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“It was a pleasure to burn.” Why does Bradbury start Fahrenheit 451 in this way, as...

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blah437 | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted August 17, 2011 at 9:02 AM via web

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“It was a pleasure to burn.” Why does Bradbury start Fahrenheit 451 in this way, as though it would be more pleasurable to burn books rather than read them?


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

Posted August 17, 2011 at 9:37 AM (Answer #1)

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"Ignorance is bliss" is a common saying, and if you can put yourself in Montag's shoes, or any of the firemen like him, it's not hard to see how good it might feel.  How simple an existence, right?  No need to think, to be challenged, no need for complications or gray areas, everything in the world in front of Montag's kerosene flame thrower is black and white.

Burn them, purge them, purify the society.  This is the fireman's unofficial mantra, or could be anyway.  And this is how they are able to go home and sleep well at night, how Montag is so seemingly content, at least in the beginning, and why Bradbury chooses the perfect six words to start the story with:

It was a pleasure to burn.

Yet another way to think about this is to think about how intoxicating it would be to have the authority, fear and respect Montag did.  There were those in Nazi uniforms (and countless other governments, actually) who did horrible things, not because they were born immoral, but because the power they held was addictive and pleasurable and it corrupted their souls.

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