What is the danger in not having books?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the most significant themes throughout the novel Fahrenheit 451 examines government censorship which makes owning or possessing literature illegal in Bradbury's dystopian society. In a conversation between Montag and Faber, Faber explains why books are important. He tells Montag,

"After all, when we had all the books we needed, we still insisted on finding the highest cliff to jump off. But we do need a breather. We do need knowledge. And perhaps in a thousand years we might pick smaller cliffs to jump off. The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are" (Bradbury 82).

Faber is essentially telling Montag that books are important to keep humanity from repeating past mistakes. The danger of making books illegal and obsolete is that former knowledge will no longer be preserved, and humanity will be destined to keep repeating its failures. In addition to preserving knowledge, government authority will remain unchecked without authors and critics critiquing its policies. Authoritative governments will be able to maintain and control the populace at the citizen's expense. Without books, humanity's innovations and advancements would stagnate and the populace would lose its political voice, clearing the way for corrupt politicians to enforce unjust policies.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial