Imagine you are in a room alone, in front of you is a big red button, beside it sticks a yellow sticky note with big red letters “DO NOT CLICK”, you are not told what are the consequences of clicking it. You know that there’s something to do with the button, and it is hard controlling yourself from leaving it alone. This is because of the curiosity in your mind. Generally, people don’t like being controlled. They are born rebellious. When they are told not to do something, it empowers curiosity on the contrary. This was what happened to the story Fahrenheit 451, where the main character fireman Montag, once a loyal society-follower, became a rebellious criminal to the government. The theme of this story is the censorship of government, the banning of knowledge, motivates curiosity and encourages people to seek it.
In the beginning, Montag wasn’t quite aware of the deformation of the society. It wasn’t until Clarisse McClellan, a ‘crazy’ teenager who inspired Montag at first. Clarisse is different than others, it seems like that she is open to the world. Clarisse once said to Montag, “So many people are. Afraid of firemen, I mean. But you’re just a man, after all” (11) It was Clarisse who asked Montag “ ‘Are you happy?’ She said” (Bradbury 14) It was also Clarisse who first mentioned the idea to Montag about taking away a book from the burnt houses. This changed Montag’s rigid thought of books; drove Montag into thinking whether if his job as a fireman was meaningful; and whether the society was a perfect one with people receiving extra knowledge. After burning down the old woman’s house and herself, Montag completely changed. Montag felt passionate towards the old woman and wanted to help her. But the old woman refused and chose to become grey ashes with her books. “The fumes of kerosene bloomed up about her.”( 43) From then on, Montag felt deeply about her and started questioning his job. He was provoked from this experience and wanted to give more thought to the present status of the society. Eventually, Montag decided to stop blindly following the orders of the government. “Where the path of kerosene lay like the track of some evil snail” (43) Montag took away a book, The Bible, and started reading, which was something that was not permitted. And discovered all of the knowledge in it, even when it was hard to understand the words in the beginning. As Montag knew more, he wanted even more and became rebellious.
Montag started to read more together with the help of another person who supported book reading. However, Montag’s wife Mildred was addicted to technology, being with her ‘relatives’ in the walls was one of her hobbies. Mildred was isolated in her own box and had a false sense of what’s is happening in the society. “Does your family love you, love you very much, love you with all their heart and soul, Millie?” (79) Mildred is a contrast to her husband. After being reported by her, Montag’s idea of rebelling became stronger and is ready for the battle with captain Beatty and the government. When he leaves the destroyed bombed city, he realizes that “It is not burning. It was warming” (147) What he believes now was that the destruction of dystopian society will be reborn of a new, better world. Montag thought “It was a pleasure to burn”(7) at first, but Montag, in the end, escaped the deformed society which was destroyed.
One connection is the censorship in China. The communist party has blocked websites for the Chinese people, and established its own search engines and chat apps. Why would they do so? To take control of the people, to stop them from knowing, preventing characters like Montag who was a threat to the government in Fahrenheit 451. There is no liberty in China, what people say and write on the multimedia are all seen from the government.
An insightful discovery I’ve found from this story was that the word “god” has appeared several times in the book, often used as an expression before a phrase. “God knows why” (27)
“God, I’m hungry” (22) Fairly, the first ever book Montag has taken home was The Bible. So has Montag discovered the origin of how they speak each day, and discovered the meaning of “religion”?
Overall, Fahrenheit is a book with simple words but deep meaning within it. When governments use censorship it may seem to be an easy way to control people. Censorship really works on people, but it is also easier for citizens to find out the flaws of the society. So why not just give liberty.