Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451: Dystopian Anxiety and Robotic Hound Dogs

F451Hey, all you Hunger Games fans: Breaking News Alert! Dystopian literature came long before Katniss and Peeta were fighting against the Capitol and President Snow. In fact, way back in 1953, science-fiction-mystery-fantasy-horror writer Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, a chilling tale of a futuristic American society where books are outlawed. Firemen in Bradbury’s America protect society by burning any books that are found—protecting citizens from information, knowledge, empathy, and connection. The story centers around Guy Montag, a fireman struggling to find happiness in this censored and controlled world.

Lara: So, it turns out I made it through my formative years not having read this book. I know I have read some Bradbury . . . The Illustrated Man . . . but not this one. You’ve read it. Right?

Jennifer: Well, I think I’ve gone forty-five years thinking I’ve read it, but I’m not sure I really had.

But, yes, here is an early dystopian vision from 1953. Let’s get a handle on this dystopian thing. Here’s Wikipedia’s take on dystopia. Very basically, dystopian visions offer potential future societies that have often gone totally awry—and the inherent problems hark back to current societal evils. Fahrenheit 451 is one such literary vision. Two other famous literary endeavors are George Orwell’s 1984 (published in 1949) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (published in 1932). Then, kids might’ve read The Giver by Lois Lowry. Recently, we had The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006). And before the onslaught of The Hunger Games, we had Mad Max. And, Lara, you won’t like this because I know you unfairly hate it, but The Walking Dead is part of our dystopian-worship.

I think the interesting questions surrounding this and other dystopian works are: Why all this future anxiety? Why are we so freaked out when we ponder our fate? Then, we might ask if there is any truth in particular visions, and should we be doing something about it.

Lara: I can’t speak to many of the books you have listed because futuristic, dystopian lit really isn’t my thing . . . But I can tell you that I do see some truth in Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury has created this culture of disconnect. There’s no art or literature or examples through which people can ponder and question and ask why. There’s no curiosity—on any real level. I see some of that happening today. There’s a lot of superficiality in the contemporary world. There’s a lot of disconnect, despite technology that is supposed to connect us. And there’s infinite conflict. In our homes, our communities, and the world. This book covers a lot of that.

Jennifer: Well, the book is interesting in that it’s so ahead of its time, but also off, too. It’s off, because—in part—no one really knew where we’d land. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury had the amazing foresight to predict the wild big screen TVs with potential havoc—but he didn’t know about social media or smart phones. So, he was ahead of his time, but bound by it too.

I think he was very much off on one important thing: He’s off on human nature. That he conceives of the future human as doing away with love or connection seems off to me. That’s an undeniable, universal part of human nature. We need others; we love; we exist in relationships. I think we’ll never be headed in this direction. It comes from a false premise or belief about humanity. Despite our dehumanizing behaviors, humans can’t exist without love and relationships. Bradbury’s vision wouldn’t happen.

An example: the hound. Never gonna happen. Remember the dog in The Jetsons? Astro? Was he also a robot? The thing about humanity is that we will never give up our puppies.

The point: I think Bradbury was ahead of his time in many things, but off-the-mark in understanding some universals about human nature.

Lara: Actually, he doesn’t do away with it. That’s why he has Clarisse McClellan in the book. She’s the young and “crazy” girl who does question things. She tastes the falling rain on her lips, rubs a dandelion under chins to see if people are in love. And, her death, by those who fear her, is Montag’s catalyst to fight the system. She’s the reason he pulls books out of hiding and tracks down Professor Faber to help him understand the world before books and thinking were banned.

I loved Clarisse. She gets Montag thinking when she engages him about his work:

“Do you mind if I ask? How long you’ve worked at being a fireman?”

“Since I was twenty, ten years ago.”

“Do you ever read any of the books you burn?”

He laughed, “That’s against the law!”

“Oh. Of course.”

Clarisse was innocent yet thoughtful, and she encouraged Montag to question what he just patently and blindly believed. And, in the end, Montag fights for humanity—and wins.

Jennifer: Yes. I do think, though, that many dystopian visions fail to recognize that humans are humans. In this, Clarisse is an anomaly. She will never be an anomaly.

But maybe Bradbury’s point is that the Clarisses never die, really. In the end, Clarisse will triumph. I am interested in the logistics, however, of such cruel, Clarisse-hating societies. How could that happen?

This is a great passage on the enigmatic powers-that-be:

“Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.”

In other words, humans need to avoid thinking; they need to avoid internal conflict. Contrast this with an earlier passage on how Montag feels when he encounters the humanity present in Clarisse:

“He felt his body divide itself into a hotness and a coldness, a softness and a hardness, a trembling and a not trembling, the two halves grinding one upon the other.”

Such is real life: internal conflict, thinking, and the need for resolution which doesn’t come easy. Bradbury’s nightmarish dystopian society looks for easy resolution without thinking.

Lara: In some ways, it could happen more easily than we think. I mean, just this morning, we discussed how some schools don’t allow Hunger Games to be read in school (though they may allow Lord of the Flies). Isn’t that outrageous? But, yet, they can make that choice. So a few banned books may not create a widespread apocalypse, but there’s still a lot of fear in the world . . . fear that drives questionable or limiting or dangerous outcomes. With fear, we also get complacency and consent.

And that’s why we need the Clarisses, those who instantly question, and the Montags who come around and are willing to stand up. And, you! Didn’t you once protest when James Baldwin was questioned by some parents in your little parent posse?

It reminds me of this passage from the book:

“Do you know that books smell like nutmeg or some spice from a foreign land? I loved to smell them when I was a boy. Lord, there were a lot of lovely books before we let them all go . . . Mr. Montag, you are looking at a coward. I saw the way things were going, a long time back. I said nothing. I’m one of the innocents who could have spoken up and out when no one would have listened to the ‘guilty,’ but I did not speak, and thus became guilty myself.”

Jennifer: Yeah, I’ve gotten bent out of shape over book-banning issues a number of times. I’ve thrown fits over parents wanting to ban Go Tell It On The Mountain, The Book Thief, and The Catcher in the Rye. I’ve also freaked out a little about Harry Potter, even though I haven’t read the books. So, yes: I’m no friend of book-banning.

At any rate, you’re right. I think Bradbury’s genius is more evident in his understanding of information control than it is in his understanding of human nature. I won’t harp on this—but that marriage: also not gonna happen. So count me out on the dog and the marriage.

I did think an especially gut-wrenching scene was when his wife attempts suicide and is “fixed.” And how the fixing is routine, all in a night’s work, for the people who show up on Montag’s doorstep.

There are probably too many things here for us to adequately deal with, but I’ll mention just a few:

  • Bradbury chooses to quote Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” of all the poems in the world. That’s an essay right there.
  • The history of book-burning. Thinking about Hitler.
  • The history of the suppression of the Arts. Thinking about Stalin.Which was partly on Bradbury’s mind.
  • The discussion in this novel of the Phoenix, rising from the flames. Granger, the drifter/hero/exile speaks of how humans have the ability to learn from their mistakes, to hold mirrors up to themselves, to not repeat their historical mistakes. (I’m sure we could launch a whole big discussion on this in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and the weird backlash it’s had on refugees.)

Bottom-line: This book is majorly thought-provoking. I also found it very well-written. One passage and I’m done:

“And the men with the cigarettes in their straight-lined mouths, the men with the eyes of puff adders, took up their load of machine and tube, their case of liquid melancholy and the slow dark sludge of nameless stuff, and strolled out the door.”

Lara: Bottom-line . . . you’re right. And so many good passages: I will add another gem before we sign off.

This is Professor Faber, talking to Montag:

“You’re a hopeless romantic . . . It would be funny if it were not serious. It’s not books you need, it’s some of the things that once were in books… No, no, it’s not books at all you’re looking for. Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”

Oh Faber…

Next Up!

Stay tuned for our year-end recap. The best of the best! The worst of the worst! And even the meh. Happy reading, Snotties!

_______________________________________________________________________

Can’t get enough of Snotty Literati? Follow us on Facebook!

Want to read more from Jennifer? Check her out at www.jenniferspiegel.com 

Want to see what Lara is up to? Go to www.onelitchick.com

One Comment

  1. Natalie Braunger December 22, 2015 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Nicely done ladies! Surprising to me that neither of you had read this a young person. It resonated with me in my adolescence, and it continues to be a favorite. Nice dialogue and connections to current events. Keep up the good work, I certainly enjoy the commentaries!

Leave A Comment

  • pussey video trailers
  • father daughter arab sex video
  • laos girls xxx
  • mature young boy fitsh movies
  • free amateur video your
  • moms soccer sex videos
  • best free pics of japanies
  • girls next door fuck
  • chanelle hayes glamour pics
  • Teens i thong panties
  • free xxx orgy
  • mom blackmailed by son for sex
  • mature women galleries naked
  • girl teen tube
  • seat belt projectile teen video england
  • watch movie the deep throat
  • ebony girls with hairy pussy pictures
  • sexy vietnamese girls
  • gaging black teens
  • very young filipina girls
  • beach sex pussy
  • petite fleur tango composer
  • big tits striptease tube videos
  • video free nude teen
  • sexy ass lesbian anal licking
  • free anal download xxx
  • Raylene richards lesbian video
  • unusual free pics
  • fuck guava pussy
  • Iran sex fuck
  • asian sin city cheri d
  • the hottest young teen in
  • hardcore fantasy sex stories
  • free videos tna
  • xxx mature old mom
  • girls with small butt
  • lesbian sex wrestle i
  • monologues for auditions for teen girls
  • free naked pictures of couples fucking
  • mom young son fuck
  • teen girl with ncie ass
  • hot spanish girls get butt fucked
  • bigg butt
  • huge black aerolos movies
  • young girls in tiny skanky outfits
  • woman with small tits videos
  • free oral sex vid
  • teen home made sex
  • granny bitch pics
  • free hairy mature pussy thumbnails
  • horny and lovin it young girls
  • sexy mature fuck
  • First time fucking pussy
  • Hot nude hunk
  • cute teen posing galleries
  • busty girl uniform sex
  • black fuck tubes
  • ebony squirting lesbians
  • cowgirls leather
  • anal sex desensitizing cream
  • h cup boobs picture
  • xxx free teen thumbnail galleries
  • Kate winslet the reader sex scene video
  • How to prolong masturbation
  • free pics black booty
  • guy gets blowjob at party
  • lesgian mature movies
  • japanese naked women strippers
  • free amateur lesbians orgy movies
  • women enjoying orgasm during sex
  • black mama butt
  • penny flame vids
  • huge dick slamming pussy
  • cartoon movie archive
  • bysex group gang bang
  • wifey fuck hog
  • cheerleader teen girls
  • glamour of sweden girls
  • sofia escorts sex massage girls
  • xxx tube sex teen
  • b cup size boobs pics
  • black girl has orgasm video
  • ebony home made
  • chubby young naked nude babes
  • mexican high school girls sexy
  • Halle berry pictures nude
  • mature nylons videos
  • free teen pissing videos
  • free gushing pussy downloads
  • Best lesbian sex positions
  • squirting asian lesbian
  • old men sex movies
  • teen russian lesbian
  • throat young powered by vbulletin
  • real forbiden young xxx
  • Ramba teen sex
  • full video teresa hien
  • food pussy insertions
  • video of man fingering himself
  • Hannah harper interracial
  • home made wife videoes
  • amateur female sex videos
  • free shitting girl movies
  • true home sex video
  • free interracial glory hole movies
  • fee hentie movies
  • Girl indian sex
  • Pakistani big tits
  • big nipples sex
  • sex hentai girls
  • south indian couples having sex
  • mtv real world girls nude pics
  • long dick fucks wife mother
  • young boys mature mom
  • ebony teen fucks white guys
  • Sexy laker girls
  • pics girls young legal hardcore
  • pictures of black roses
  • sexy facebook girls myspace sluts
  • tricked into anal sex wife
  • amateur sex video gallerie
  • girls to orgasm
  • black unicorn sex
  • girls orgasm video trailers
  • red tube college sex party
  • free young black whores
  • ass anal hd movies updated
  • latino teen fuck
  • hot girls ride cock after party
  • babe get naked video
  • men fuck movies free
  • sexy young girls who love cum
  • men having sex in the butt
  • hardcore college pussy
  • littele girl sex
  • horny young lesbo girls
  • great tits sex
  • free candy ass fuck movies
  • petite asian female teen
  • free pics girls old men
  • juliana young playboy pics
  • tits webcam boobs
  • tiny hott young teen vids
  • young hardcore pussy
  • big boobs young
  • amateur girl learns to suck cock
  • amateur pussy lips
  • girls laying naked
  • homemade facial video
  • sexy women swimming naked
  • amateur crossdressers for sex
  • babysitter xxx married fuck
  • xvideos mega boobs
  • ipod free videos forum
  • wives who suck dick
  • naked wives mastubat
  • local asian sex
  • free internal pussy creampie movies
  • jap girls sex
  • sandra bullock butt pics proposal
  • hairy big nipples girls
  • Teen blonde dancing
  • Couple having sex on the beach
  • gropedgirls in japan
  • young girl sucking dick
  • sexy blonde mexicans
  • japanese actresses sex video
  • hardcore and pictures
  • shemales fuck shemales videos
  • black lactating nipples
  • wifes first black cum
  • world champion xxx deep throat
  • young teen bikini camel toe pictures
  • videos of hot teenage girls striping
  • butt inplant videos
  • Incest sex tapes
  • black belts karate video
  • libby true teen babe pics
  • black and white drawings sexy women
  • marry younger wife bad
  • quito sex videos
  • Mongolian girls sex
  • free amateur interracial cuckhold movies
  • petite milf galleries
  • guide to anal sex for women
  • japanese teen shemales nudes
  • petite skinny teen
  • nudity mature girls
  • young native nude girls
  • mom teaches daughter sex videos
  • video shaving pussy ass
  • bang bros interracial videos
  • kiie xxx
  • sexy oiled girls
  • amateur anal attempts torrent
  • male blowjob video
  • oral olymics streaming videos
  • girl massaging her ass
  • young naked teen boy videos
  • sleeping party girls sex pictures
  • nun sex lesbian
  • Vidio sex kamasutra
  • white naked girls big thighs
  • teen cumshots slutload
  • watch free online transexuals fucking girls
  • jap lesbian
  • haley williams naked picture
  • mature teen video
  • free shemale movies vids
  • naked girles videos
  • Raw ass fucking
  • girls seduced by lesbians
  • your amateur pron video
  • New sex positions videos
  • xxx anal free video
  • hardcore lesbian dvd
  • teen under having sex
  • threesome videos homemade
  • Big ass lesbien
  • her first oral sex tube
  • sex ed class rainbow party
  • pics of young naked girls
  • amuater teen videos
  • funny dirty sex pics
  • Sexy little pussy
  • Teen tits in bras
  • big black cocks fucking tiny teens
  • thick juicy pussy lips
  • Small tits images
  • all naked young boy pics
  • Winx club sex pics
  • Naked girls cumming
  • rough sex naked castings
  • sex toys uk huge butt plug
  • guys girls high school
  • big hipped white girl teen ass
  • mature femdom bdsm free galleries
  • girls taking naked pictures
  • mature moms black men
  • pregnant bride sex pics
  • metacafe naked japanese
  • old with young lesbians
  • chae young naked
  • britt and taylor lesbian handjob
  • free sex xxx hentai
  • free sexy asian
  • hot young old videos
  • watch interracial movies for free
  • hottest and blonde sexy xxx vedios
  • amateur romantic sex
  • egyptian girl sex
  • party hardcore japanese
  • blonde anal lesbian
  • Sexy hot blonde lesbians
  • free fuc video
  • italien teen sex pics
  • naked young ueropean girls
  • sand used in movie pitch black
  • taco mature hairy pussy
  • hot sexy girls in fights
  • fucking my bbw wife video
  • posted amateur graphy
  • ass nude black female pictures
  • Indian actress nude pics
  • petite ribbed tank
  • college girls rules cumshot anal