How did the government in Fahrenheit 451 gain control over the people?  

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mdelmuro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Near the end of Part 1, Beatty explains to Montag how the government gained control over the society, including why reading literature is banned. He explains that the people gave up their rights in the name of equality. But, according to Beatty, the move away from books came with the advent of mass media—movies, condensed versions of novels, etc.—and the need for citizens to have information so "you can read all the classics; keep up with your neighbors."

In addition, this movement resulted in the desire to forbid people, regardless of their ethnicity or minority status, to feel sorry for themselves. Today, this would be called "political correctness," but according to Beatty, the new laws were instituted because "we can't have our minorities upset and stirred." 

Beatty goes on to explain how and why minorities have been upset and speaks about Little Black Sambo and Uncle Tom's Cabin, but he continues to discuss how society, in total, would rather not think about these things. He says society would rather focus on other ideas, such as mass media and sports. 

The end game, in regards to the new government controls, was to have firemen be "custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferiors; official censors, judges, and executors."  At the end, Beatty says that government did not take control of the people, rather the people gave the government control.

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Fahrenheit 451

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