In Fahrenheit 451, what do the numerals "451" represent?

3 Answers

belarafon's profile pic

belarafon | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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When Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, he allegedly chose the title for the temperature that paper, particularly book paper, catches fire. The idea was that the firemen use flamethrowers to burn books, and the fire needed to be at least 451 degrees Fahrenheit to properly burn the paper. However, proper scientific testing shows that paper ignites in a much broader range, anywhere from 4-800 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the quality and thickness of the paper. In fact, some papers don't ignite until 450 degrees Celsius, almost double 451 degrees Fahrenheit. It is more likely that Bradbury chose the title because it sounded good than based on research of paper temperatures; of course, because of the popularity of the novel, many sources reference that temperature as accurate without further research.

csgreen's profile pic

csgreen | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which books/paper burns. It is very symbolic for this book!