How do people learn in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The society of Fahrenheit 451 emphasizes entertainment over learning. The owning and reading of books is forbidden; instead, people are encouraged to pursue leisure activities, like driving fast and playing sports.

In this society, schools still exist, although their form has changed significantly, as Beatty explains:

School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped. English and spelling gradually neglected… Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work.

Moreover, learning is discouraged because it may upset certain social groups, like minorities. Society thus focused less and less on learning about the achievements of specific individuals or the history of events and moved towards magazines which became a "nice blend of vanilla tapioca." In other words, offensive and non-intellectual topics became increasingly popular and sought-after:

Let the comic-books survive. And the three-dimensional sex magazines, of course.

Over time, society came to view intellectuals and book-lovers as outsiders. We see this most clearly in the character Clarisse, who the authorities watch and Beatty labels as a "time bomb."

For those few people who still want to learn, their only option is to break society's rules by seeking out books. The people who do this, like Montag and Faber, are cast out by society and run the risk of an encounter with the fearsome Mechanical Hound.

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Fahrenheit 451

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