How do Bradbury's experiences in the times in which he lives influence the way he wrote Fahrenheit 451?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Bradbury's work was a direct reflection of the time periods that preceded it and the one in which it was immersed.  The idea of the suppression of thought and actual book burnings by the Nazis had to hold sway of Bradbury.  The notion of a government that exceeded all notions of institutional restraints to the point where thought control was exercised through the banning of particular works is something that is evident within the work.  The firemen resemble Nazis in that they carry out the will of the state, without questioning.  At the same time, the idea of seeking to limit public knowledge and understanding is similar to the Cold War fears of Communism in America.  There is a very strong note of McCarthyism present in the Firemen having complete sanction and support from the government to root out all of those who have books and those who are deemed "different."  When Clarisse asks Montag if he is happy, it is a moment that is akin to hearing Joseph Welch ask McCarthy on television, "At long last, have you no decency?"  Both quotes are moments in time that cause change.  Clarisse's question starts Montag's process of assessing his own life and his own beliefs, while Welch's question helps to drive home the reevalulation of McCarthy and the depths to which American politics had sunk.

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Fahrenheit 451

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