What do people talk about in the society of Fahrenheit 451?

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price7781 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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We get the idea from Clarisse when she meets Montag walking in the neighborhood one night that people don’t talk about anything anymore.  There is no free thought or exchange of ideas because no one has anything new to say or experience.  Captain Beatty tells us that everyone at one point in the history of the society became so politically correct that they were afraid to express their ideas.  He also recounts how books and novels were reduced to condensed versions and snippets of their original ideas because people demanded information to be faster and easier to access.  It became more important to be entertained that to seek knowledge.  (Sound familiar?  Bradbury’s 1953 predictions and connections to today were phenomenal!)

Clarisse details in her conversation with Montag that people don’t build front porches anymore.  They do not leave their houses and talk to their neighbors or each other.  She believes that the world moves too fast, and people aren’t seeing the world around them.  The government of the society in Fahrenheit 451 condones this behavior because it believes people are happier if they have less to think about or do.  By burning books and keeping people “content” with fast cars and wall size televisions, the citizens are easier to control.  In contrast, Clarisse’s family talk about issues with each other, and this is something that is foreign to Montag as he witnesses the dynamics of her family. 

Overall, the society in Fahrenheit 451 has become dull and complacent in their daily lives.  Entertainment is more important than free expression of ideas and learning.  They are watching the world go by and wasting their lives. 

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