What is the tone on society in Fahrenheit 451?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in response to what he felt was the diminishing of socialization in people; he saw how interpersonal communications were decreasing with the advent of 24/7 radio and television entertainment. People no longer sat at the table and spoke abou their days; they sat silently in front of the television, or walked with their radios and ignored the people around them. Bradbury explains this view through Clarisse, one of the few young people with an individualistic mind:

"But I don't think it's social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk, do you? An hour of TV class, an hour of basketball or baseball or running, another hour of transcription history or painting pictures, and more sports, but do you know, we never ask questions..."
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

Overall, the society in the book is damaged; while the wall-sized TV screens and devalued human life are considered normal, it is clear from the writing -- largely through Montag's point of view -- that this society cannot continue. Something must change, and probably for the worse. The tone on modernizing society is negative, not in a sense of anti-progress, but in a sense of anti-human: when people lose their value on the lives of others, they forget to place value on their own lives, and spend their time mindlessly consuming. In this sense, the tone is negative, but only insofar as the society itself is one of negative values.