What are some verisimilitudes from Fahrenheit 451

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Perhaps more nowadays than when Ray Bradbury wrote his novel, there are instances and characters in Fahrenheit 451 that bear a close resemblance to real life. Here are some:

  • The burning of books was actually performed by the Nazis in Germany. Works that were a threat to the totalitarian state were destroyed. Bradbury's message points to the necessity of people's reading as books make people aware of controversial ideas that lead people to clearer thinking. Certainly, there has been censoring of books.
  • The huge televisions that cover the walls with inane programs about the lives of simple-minded people who act out inane scenes that Mildred and her insipid friends watch resemble the walls of many bars  and restaurants that have multiple televisions. Reality programs are as insipid as those shows that Mildred watches, as well.
  • People interested in thoughtful conversations are not quite as rare as Clarisse, but they are not apparently the "norm," either. "How rarely did other people's faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought?" 
  • Clarisse's uncle has been arrested "for being a pedestrian." While people are not arrested for being pedestrians, often others wonder why someone is walking, especially if this walking is done in areas where it is not expected.
  • Overdosing on drugs is not uncommon. Perhaps it is not to the point that one takes drugs every night in order to sleep as Mildred does, but there are many people who do overdose, and others who take something to aid sleeping because they are dissatisfied in their lives.
  • The mechanical hound does not follow people, but NASA listens to phone conversations; people's privacy is invaded in other ways, as well.
  • "The public itself stopped reading of its own accord." This is true in the real world, as well. Many are aliterate, choosing to watch the movie or to not bother with classic works of literature; consequently, they are shallow of thought.
  • Bradbury addresses the issues of the induced illiteracy of the mass media and the general dislike for anyone and anything intellectual. Nowadays, the mass media often does not report news or it filters it to make it more innocuous. Inane reality shows are proliferate
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