Explain the thematic applications of book burning.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I had to pare down the original question.  In my mind, the strongest thematic application of burning books represents the governmental and social repression that Bradbury thrusts upon both Montag and the reader in order to be an agent of change.  The idea of book burning and individuals in the position of power determining what is "dangerous" and what is acceptable helps to compel Montag and the reader into action.  Essentially, the largest thematic application is that it raises in the issue of change and transformation.  Bradbury uses the idea of burning books as something that the individual either condones through their passivity or speaks out against in their dissent.  The reader and Montag are compelled to take action, and this element of change and transformation is one of the largest thematic applications of the idea of burning books.  In another application, Bradbury uses the book burning concept as an expression of how a centralized authority has lost its checks and balances element.  Whether it is Nazi Germany or the mentality of McCarthyism, Bradbury sees book burning as an example of authority's power having gone unchecked.  It is here where another thematic application of book burning is evident.


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