What time period is Fahrenheit 451 set in?

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Jonathan Beutlich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Unfortunately, the answer to this question is a bit frustrating and vague. The book takes place in "the future." Bradbury wrote the book in the 1950's, and more than one analysis places the book "sometime after 1990." Again that is frustratingly vague. That could be 1995, or it could be 2195, but that's the point. Bradbury doesn't want to nail down a specific date because that might cause the book to be dated and an incorrect prediction. If Bradbury stated that events were happening in 1999, modern day readers would be able to accurately state that Bradbury's predictions were completely wrong. The world of 1999 was nothing like the book. The vague "future" setting works much better because it allows readers that are reading the book 60 years after publication to still place the book in the future. Modern readers might see some current technology matching up to the book (earbud headphones), but enough of the book still hasn't happened that the setting still allows modern audiences to read it as a dire future prediction.

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Fahrenheit 451 takes place sometime after the 1990s. The author, Ray Bradbury, leaves clues for the reader to suggest not only when the novel takes place, but also the current state of affairs in his dystopian novel. Bradbury wrote the novel in the 1950s, so he chose a futuristic time in which to place his novel, which back then anything post-1990s must have sounded extremely futuristic; within the story the reader also learns that two atomic wars have taken place since 1990, and that a war is on-going, since some of Mildred's friends' husbands have gone to war. The futuristic, dystopian setting of Fahrenheit 451 portrays a world catering to one's happiness, but rarely achieving it.

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