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Fahrenheit 451 – Novel Study Activity Guide
by Ray Bradbury
This novel is based upon the short story “The Fireman” written by Ray Bradbury in 1951. By 1953, Bradbury had added to the story and created what is considered his most popular novel, Fahrenheit 451.
Guy Montag is a firefighter in a futuristic society. In this society, books have been outlawed by a government that does not want independently thinking citizens. Due to oppression, no one reads, enjoys nature, or has meaningful conversations. Laws are enforced by firefighters whose duty it is to burn books because books can only bring misery and grief, outlawed emotions, to those who read them. The only approved source of information in this “happy” society comes from government programming on the wall-to-wall televisions found in all homes. Although these programs purport to promote happiness, the citizens are really living empty lives. They spend all their time watching TV and therefore, have no emotional connections with anyone. Those that have realized they are unhappy commit suicide, an act that has become so common that “operators” have been assigned the daily collecting of the dead.
Montag’s world begins to spin out of control when he meets Clarisse, a young lady with a passion for learning and an unlimited curiosity about the world. She questions Montag’s happiness causing him to reflect upon his empty existence. A series of cataclysmic events add to his confusion. First his wife attempts suicide; then Montag encounters an old woman who would rather die than give up her books. Finally, Montag learns that Clarisse has been killed. All of these events make Montag remember that he has been hiding books in his home. When he decides to read these books, he is betrayed by his wife, who reports him to the authorities. Montag then finds himself on the run from his former colleagues and their diabolical mechanical hound. He finds salvation in a group of exiled book lovers who have memorized great works of literature. It is this group’s hope that they will be able to pass their knowledge on to a future generation that wants enlightenment.
This novel provides students with the opportunity to judge the values and practices of their own society because much of what Bradbury wrote about is happening today.
For more information on the novel, please visit the author's website.