I was read this book and I had a difficult time trying to find alot of the connections we have to our own society.
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I find the seashell radio quite close to today's iPod, or, in my time, the Sony Walkman. Bradbury also introduces robot bank tellers that work all night, which we see today as ATMs. Another one that may be a stretch is the "fun park" in the novel, where kids go to smash and destroy things. I see this as drawing parallels to today's video games. The hound might be a ways off, but there are plenty of methods used today to track wanted criminals.
We are seeing a gradual shift to this type of society, however, as previous posters have mentioned.
Every time I read this book I see something new that makes it relevant to whatever current event is on the nightly news. As a culture we are more and more desensitized to violence--both national and personal. We fill our time with mindless pursuits and decline opportunities to sit and talk and think. Bradbury never could have predicted the internet, and yet how many Americans find friends through networking sites like Facebook?
Clarisse's observations about school also seem particularly relevant now that many school districts pressure teachers to "teach to the test" in order that the district gain esteem/money. Expectations seem to be shallower and shallower, not because teachers are less passionate, but because the standardized test has become the most important thing.
I see some disturbing similarities in the relationship between people and the entertainment media: the wall-size TV screens that broadcast programs that become more real to many than real life itself and the isolating effect of getting lost in such technology. Human communication and relationships suffer as a result. Going outside and taking a walk becomes abnormal social behavior in the novel. Much is written and discussed about how technology has opened communication between people, but I wonder sometimes how much we are cut off from others in real terms. Imagine, for example, a family of four at home in the evening with each person in a separate room watching a separate TV set and/or logging on to a separate computer. Not good.
There are lots of governments which think they know better than its people what they should do, thus taking away the "choice" of the people and putting the power in the government's hands. In this situation, the government is much like the parent and the people are the children incapable of deciding for themselves due to inexperience or lack of resources.
For instance, the healthcare reform in the US right now might be a perfect example. People who are against the Obamacare plan are angered by the idea that the government wants bigger control or sole control over the types of coverage people get and when they get it. In this case, Mr. Obama is seen as the government/parent making the decisions for the children/Americans who can't make the decision on their own.
The example is symbolic since in the book the choice to read and think about controversial issues is on the line, but the idea of the freedom of choice is there nonetheless.
What makes Bradbury such a great writer is his ability to link his works with the modern setting. The idea of "punishing" individual pursuits of excellence might not necessarily be as dramatized as it is in the book, but we see trends of it. In a media dominated world where individuals are "spun" the truth, the control of information is evident. In a world where individual apathy combined with fear is present, the consolidation of power into the hands of the few is present. In a setting where the power structure appreciates it when individuals don't question authority, the apparatus of control is evident. Indeed, these scenarios are present in our world and we, like Montag, must decide who we are and in what we believe. Book burning might not be as overt as what we see in the novel, but the idea of censorship and control of information is an end that is always present in authority structures, and one to which we, as individuals, must commit ourselves to fighting at every step. Throughout his writing, Bradbury is a staunch advocate of individual freedom being present in as much of a pure capacity as possible and to the extent that this is demonstrated in the book, it is a call that still can be appreciated today.
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