What can we learn from Fahrenheit 451?

Expert Answers

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

One important lesson from Fahrenheit 451 concerns the danger of ignorance. Most of the citizens in the novel value endless entertainment—with entire walls of their homes serving as virtual television screens— do not read books (which are ritually burned), and are kept in perpetual ignorant bliss. There is war going...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

One important lesson from Fahrenheit 451 concerns the danger of ignorance. Most of the citizens in the novel value endless entertainment—with entire walls of their homes serving as virtual television screens— do not read books (which are ritually burned), and are kept in perpetual ignorant bliss. There is war going on in the world, but people have become numb to it. They are encouraged to forget the past, obey authority, and watch their screens. Those who ask too many questions or refuse to conform are either disappeared, burned, destroyed by a mechanical hound, or forced to hide outside of the city like hobos.

There is much else to learn from Fahrenheit, of course. Though written more than a half century ago, many of its critiques apply today—an age in which we have more technology than author Ray Bradbury could have imagined when the novel was published.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Fahrenheit 451 offers several pointed critiques of modern life. First is the alienation and shallowness of thought and culture that Bradbury is suggesting could accompany the growth of mass culture and technology. In the book, people, especially Montag's wife, have embraced these things to the exclusion of independent thought. Bradbury also worries about the effects of apathy, another consequence of modern life. People have ceased to care what is really true, or that they lack basic freedoms. The novel reflects contemporary concerns, as it was written in the midst of the 1950s, a time when technological marvels like the television were popping up in people's homes. It was also a time of heightened concerns about the spread of communism, when politicians such as Joseph McCarthy stoked popular fears about political nonconformists.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury can teach the reader that curiosity is a rooted trait within humans. Within the text, the protagonist Montag evolves from an unhappy average citizen to a rebel in hiding. Montag’s curiosity connects to the reader in that the idea that something is forbidden (in this case, books and ideas) often makes it more attractive. This has been seen repeatedly throughout history, such as during prohibition. Furthermore, Montag is relatable to the reader in that his defiance and curiosity throughout the story are ultimately what set him free. It is ironic that within this dystopian society, books are to be burned, and yet as a reader you are partaking in what would be considered punishable by law in this unpleasant futuristic world. Ultimately, the lesson that can be taken from the text is that curiosity about the world and the things within it will always light fire within people; therefore, rules and regulations will continuously be challenged and changed.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on