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The primary rule in this Dystopian society is the law forbidding citizens from reading books. The access to knowledge from reading is considered an enormous threat to the status quo, which would prevent citizens from adhering to the government's ideologies. The civil servants known as "firemen" do not put out fires as the name and tradition suggests, but actually start fires, as it is their primary duty to search for books and destroy them by piling them up and burning them. This is a powerful metaphor: the very occupation meant to keep people "safe" in a normal society does so by destroying their access to knowledge and free-thinking. The citizens are instead encouraged to watch television, and other activities which might promote conversation (such as walking more than a short distance, or having a front porch on one's house) are also forbidden.
The only books allowed in this society are those which justify the restriction on books. Ironically, when the fire chief asks questions about the history of firemen, he has to consult a "history book" which offers a revisionist interpretation of the function of firefighters, rewritten to state that books have been outlawed and subject to burning from the very early days of American civilization.
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