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The Setting of Fahrenheit 451

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In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the setting of the book takes place during some time in the future and it tells us this society that is really similar to ours. The book follows Guy Montag, who is a fireman who burns down people’s houses for having books, who meets a teenage girl called Clarisse McClellan who opens his eyes to the world around him and how things are really lonely. Montag’s wife Mildred and everyone else in his city is attached to this thing called the Parlor and it’s like having TV’s all over the walls in the place that they are at. Montag decides that he can’t be a fireman anymore and he decides he wants to leave the city and start a new life with this other group who likes to read books as well. Before he could do that, the rest of the firemen took him to his house where he has books there, so Montag had to kill the captain of the firemen and flee town in a hurry. In the end, Montag joined up with this group whom his friend called Faber told him to meet up with. There are multiple similarities between the Fahrenheit 451 and modern American society, however, most of those similarities aren’t good similarities for modern American society because modern society is slowly turning into some form of Fahrenheit 451’s society and that society was very horrible.

Books usage during this book and modern society is very similar than most people would think they are. In Fahrenheit 451, people caught having books are turned in by neighbors. Firemen come after that and they burn down the person’s books and their house as well. What happens to the person is up to them. In the book, Mrs. Blake after the firemen burned her house, wanted to die inside her house with her books and she killed herself (39-40). Montag after realizing that he has hidden many books inside his house, got called in and the firemen had to try to burn his house because Montag’s wife Mildred called them and the Captain also had his suspicions on Montag and him owning books because the hound was able to smell the books inside his house (113-114). Montag was able to escape and join this group that read and memorize books and got rid of them or else they would get in trouble with the police. In modern society, books aren’t being used as much today compared to 13 years ago. According to the Washington Post, in 2003, 29.2% of people in the United States read books, while in 2017, only 19% of people are reading books ( Ingraham). Modern society isn’t burning any books like in Fahrenheit 451, but there is a connection between the two societies in the fact, that books usage is low for each society, and they aren’t getting used anymore. What both modern society and Fahrenheit 451 have in common, is that instead of reading books, both of them is focusing something more technological.

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Advances in technology in Fahrenheit 451 and modern society are quite similar and there are real products that Bradbury predicted to come true, and some of those products actually happened. One of those objects is called a seashell which Mildred has in her ears when she overdosed on her sleeping pills (12) Seashells in this book basically allows the person to hear endless waves of the ocean, so they block out the noise from the outside world. Montag wasn’t happy that Mildred was wearing these seashells because he thought that “ Wasn’t there an old joke about the wife who talked so much on the telephone that her desperate husband ran out to the nearest store and telephoned her to ask what was for dinner? Well, then, why didn’t he buy himself an audio-Seashell broadcasting station and talk to his wife late at night, murmur, whisper, shout, scream, yell?” (42). Seashells in this world are commonly compared to Bluetooth headphones and earbuds. Another product that was introduced in Fahrenheit 451 and is in today’s society are called the TV Parlor. The parlor is very addicting for this society as no one talks to each other. For example, Mildred seems the most addicted to the parlor walls because when Montag is trying to spend some time with Mildred since he claims that he’s sick, Mildred wouldn’t turn down or turn off the parlor walls at all even when Montag tells her to turn it off (48-49). The parlor walls in modern society, are the flat screen TV’s right now because the newer TVs are taking the walls up if it’s mounted. The last thing that Bradbury predicted was the live media events that were mentioned during the book. When Montag was escaping the city after he killed the Captain, his escape got filmed by helicopters from news companies. After they found another lead, they let Montag walk away and chase after this other guy who was walking during the escape. Montag found out that they arrested this guy and the reason they choose this guy was because it would have taken all night to find Montag so they decided to choose a guy walking on the street so they can finish up the live report before their other programming ( 148). This live media reporting is compared to the news coverage that is in our society today because a lot of reporters have to report live for stuff like natural disasters, shootings, and criminal chases. Books and technology both lead to loneliness in the world of Fahrenheit 451 and in modern society.

Books being outlawed in Fahrenheit 451 has led to a few instances of loneliness in this book. When Montag talked to Clarisse for the second time, Clarisse said that people thought that she was strange and she was antisocial but in reality, she doesn’t talk to people her own age but she talks to people like Montag and her family (29-30). But based on the book’s culture, Clarisse would have been considered antisocial because she wanted to talk to her real family and not be addicted to the tv parlors. It’s assumed that Clarisse read books as well because she was able to convince Montag to change his point of view about books and the world in general. Montag loneliness was partly due with books being outlawed. Once Montag realizes that books shouldn’t be illegal, Montag becomes an outcast with the firemen because he doesn’t know how he would fit in with them knowing that he does a job that is against his ideals. Technology has also led to Montag becoming lonely. While technology has increased in the future of Fahrenheit 451, Montag had never been a fan of it. Montag didn’t seem to interact with much of the technology presented in the book. Montag’s wife Mildred, was addicted to the technology in the book and specifically the Parlor. Mildred would watch the parlor all day and she would barely care about Montag at all. Since Montag and Mildred didn’t have a real relationship, Montag became lonely because he didn’t have any true friends that he could have talked to about his situation besides Faber and the group that he met at the end of the book. Both books and technology have made an effect on our society becoming more lonely recently. With technology increasing in our society, that has led to books becoming less used throughout the last few years. With technology, people who do read books are less likely to talk about the book in person and would talk about it using text messages if at all. Technology just in general has led to fewer people talking in real life and talking to more people on social media. It makes people talk to someone who can control what appearance they want on social media than who that person is in real life. An example of technology leading to loneliness would be if someone saw on another person’s Instagram or Snapchat story, they were at a party and that other person wasn’t invited, it will lead for that other person to become more lonely and depressed. Books and Technology have a similar effect of leading someone down the path of loneliness in Fahrenheit 451 and modern society.

Modern society is slowly turning into a form of Fahrenheit 451’s society because there are some similarities between the book and modern society. Those similarities would include that books are becoming less used and technology increasing in both societies. Both of those things lead to loneliness and depression in both societies. The hope for our society is that the leaders won’t lead modern society into a version of Fahrenheit 451.

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