Why is the Tower of Babel referenced in Fahrenheit 451?

The Tower of Babel is referenced in Fahrenheit 451 to demonstrate Beatty's contempt for books. In the Bible, the Tower of Babel led to God's punishing people by making them speak different languages so that they couldn't communicate with each other. Beatty regards the old woman's collection of books as a Tower of Babel in that the books say different, contradictory things.

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When the firemen come to burn the books of the woman who prefers to die rather than live without them, Beatty tries to reason with the woman. She says, "You can't ever have my books." Beatty responds by saying,

You know the law .... Where's your common sense? None of...

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When the firemen come to burn the books of the woman who prefers to die rather than live without them, Beatty tries to reason with the woman. She says, "You can't ever have my books." Beatty responds by saying,

You know the law .... Where's your common sense? None of those books agree with each other. You've been locked up here for years with a regular damned Tower of Babel. Snap out of it!

The tower of Babel is a story from the Biblical book of Genesis in which humans get together cooperatively to build a tower to heaven. However, God prevents this by making them into people who all speaks different languages. Their lack of ability to communicate renders it impossible for them to build their tower.

This quote shows Beatty's knowledge of literature and contempt for it. He is the voice of the orthodox way of thinking in his society, and as such, he tries to frame embracing a diversity of ideas as a negative. This shows the extent to which the state believes an unthinking uniformity is the way to achieve a utopia. Ironically, as the woman knows and the novel will show, this inanely dumbed down world leads not to nirvana but to people living bored, miserable lives.

Montag will be far more impressed by the woman who dies with her books than by what Beatty has to say. He wonders what books could contain that would elicit such a response in her, and he begins to seek this "Babel."

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In the Bible, the Tower of Babel was an attempt by humankind to reach God. It was believed that humankind had the power and the ability to reach the Almighty simply by virtue of building a very tall tower that would establish a connection between heaven and earth.

Infuriated by such arrogance and presumption, God punished humankind for the construction of the Tower of Babel by giving them different languages, thus making it impossible for them to understand each other.

Drawing upon the Bible story, Beatty compares the large collection of books owned by an old lady to the Tower of Babel. He criticizes the books, saying that they contradict each other. In his eyes, this is what makes them a veritable Tower of Babel; they produce a confusion of different voices.

As well as being guilty of a grotesque overstatement, Beatty can be criticized on the grounds of hypocrisy. Here we have Beatty, the arch book-hater, using a literary reference. As he knows full well, the story of the Tower of Babel itself comes from a book, the most famous book of all time. This indicates that Beatty, despite regularly expressing contempt for books, is at least familiar with some of their contents. More than anything else, this makes him a particularly interesting character.

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In the Bible's Old Testament, the "Tower of Babel" is a structure that people build to try to reach heaven, so impressed are they with their sense of power—to reach the realms of God. God causes these people to be unable to communicate with each other. The project is then abandoned and the people scatter.

"Babel," according to Dictionary.com, is also a word that stands alone, alluding to the Tower of Babel. It means:

a confused mixture of sounds or voices, or, a scene of noise and confusion
This sense of "babel," as well as the "Tower of Babel" are found in Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury. The Tower of Babel is referred to by Beatty, Montag's boss, as he asserts that books are confusing, contradicting each other. (Ironically, Beatty demonstrates a depth of knowledge that could only have come from books or speaking with those who have read books: yet still he burns books. E.g., how does Beatty know enough to even refer to the Tower of Babel, information which comes from a book?) Beatty references the Tower of Babel as he tries to reason with the woman whose house and books they are burning:
Where's your common sense? None of these books agree with each other. You've been locked up here for years with a regular damned Tower of Babel. Snap  out of it! The people in these books never lived. Come on now!
However, the sense of "babel" in the story would also allude to a deeper theme: that the people of this community are not encouraged to share ideas, nor are they encouraged to participate in the developing original thought. Their thoughts are controlled: their ideas are manipulated in the direction in which the government wants them to move. When listening to Mildred and Montag speak, it is indeed like he peopkle in the Bible who have no real basis of communication. It may be mostly for this reason that Montag feels so disconnected from Mildred. For example, Mildred is completely "brainwashed" in pouring over the telecasts from the three screens in the living room. (People are encouraged to conform, and Mildred is happy to do so.) Mildred describes a new show where the viewer can participate, however that participation is nothing more than agreeing with the rhetoric provided in the script—there is no room for interpretation or questions.
'When it comes time for the missing lines, they all look at me out of the three walls and I say the lines..."What do you think of this whole idea, Helen?" And I say—' She paused and ran her finger under a line on the script. 'I think that's fine!...' And then they go on with the play until he says, 'Do you agree with that, Helen?' and I say, 'I sure do!.' Isn't that fun, Guy?" He stood in the hall looking at her.
Mildred's "canned" responses agree with what society is trying to impart in the "programming" presented in these shows on the screens. Ask no questions; agree with the propaganda. Guy cannot see any sense in this "entertainment," once again providing an example of a "Tower of Babel" within this community, specifically in Mildred and Guy's home.
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