What is the significance or relationship of the title Fahrenheit 451 to the book?  

Expert Answers
kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the opening of his science fiction story of a dystopian society in which books are banned because of the knowledge they contain -- knowledge that could pose a threat to the stability of this repressive society -- Ray Bradbury notes: "FAHRENHEIT 451: The temperature at which book-paper catches fire and burns"

In Fahrenheit 451, firemen are not employed to extinguish fires; they are employed for the purpose of carrying out the government's edict against the possession of books.  As Bradbury's story begins, he describes the exhilaration experienced by firemen as they torch literature.  Montag, the story's protagonist, is busy at work:

"With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black."

The relationship of the book's title to the story is the emphasis placed by the ruling regime on controlling the population through criminalization of literature.  The irony inherent in vesting in firemen the authority and responsibility for locating and burning books is at the core of Bradbury's novel.

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Paper burst into flame at 451 degrees fahrenheit. The title thus indicates that fire will be a central motif of the novel. The metaphor of fire operates on more than one level: Montag functions initially as the fireman who, in this futuristic world, does not put out fires, but burns up books. So literally, the novel is about burning books. But a fire also begins to burn in Montag's soul as he increasingly questions the sterile life he and his wife, who attempts suicide, lead in a world of vacuous television programming and no books. This inner fire leads him to change his life, but also leads him to burn up his boss, Captain Beatty. Bradbury shows that fire can work in more than one way: it is destructive and also difficult to control: it can turn on and destroy the people who believe they are in charge of it. It also can become the kind of metaphoric inner fire that motivates creative change. The book's title would have also brought back to early readers memories of the Nazi's burning books as part of their totalitarian regime and this negative association would have lead people to reject with horror a future world where books are burnt. 

pward123 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

451 degress is the temperature at which books burn. Since the events center around "burning books" - which is the ultimate form of censoring, the title Fahrenheir 451 is representative of the heat, temperature and burning of the books.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper ignites.The irony is that the "firemen" in the book do not put out fires, they burn books that have been banned by the government.

parama9000 | Student

451 F is the degree at which paper burns. It is a coincidental fact that 451 F is the title of the book as Rod Bradbury did not do any actual research. This is associated with the censorship in the book.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

The significance of the title "Fahrenheit 451" is 451 degree Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper burns.

albi123 | Student

451 degrees is the temperture that paper burns. That is why the novel is titled that. The fireman in the book don't put out fires but burn books instead. The ironic thing is that Ray Bradbury didn't really research the fact but decided to title his book that anyway. It ended up his guess was correct!