What is Beatty's attitude to books? Do you agree? Why? (Fahrenheit 451)

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Beatty's sense of control and desire to consolidate control is what drives him to believe that books and knowledge have to be controlled, meaning eradicated, by the state.  In Beatty's world, power and authority trumps all else.  The interests of control and exacting influence cannot be jeopardized by anything.  Books, ideas, and pure thought represent threats to this power establishment because they cannot be quantified nor controlled.  The intrinsic imaginative value of books and personal expression represents a great threat to the power structure of the establishment.  Beatty's justification of his actions through literature and ideas only proves the idea that if authority can control it, then it is acceptable.  It is a challenge to control all ideas, therefore, Beatty's duty of burning and removing them from collective consciousness becomes the only way to mandate that the institutional structure of power is absolute.

Naturally, the fact that we are having this discussion indicates my disagreement with this notion.  If individuals lose the ability to express, articulate and develop thoughts through their own inquiry, the hopes for a viable democracy vanish, which might be the precise goal of Captain Beatty and the authority structure he represents.

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Fahrenheit 451

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