Hannibal Free Public Library

 Fahrenheit 451

Rat Bradbury

February 27, 2012


Fahrenheit 451, the 1953 reincarnation of "The Fire Man," presents ideas that are far more complex than that brief description indicates. This novel is a soothsayer, warning of a future populated by non-readers and non-thinkers—a lost people with no sense of their history. At the same time, it salutes those who dedicate their lives to the preservation and passing on of knowledge and testifies to the quiet or passionate courage of the rebel with a cause. Fahrenheit also poses questions about the role of government.

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     1.     Why would society make "being a pedestrian" a crime? (Clarisse tells Montag that her uncle was once arrested for this.)

2. One suicide and one near-suicide occur in this book. One woman, who shuns books but loves TV and driving fast in her car, anesthetizes herself. "We get these cases nine or ten a night," says the medical technician. Another woman, who cherishes her books, sets herself on fire with them. "These fanatics always try suicide," says the fire captain. Why would two people who seem to be so different from each other try to take their own lives? Why does suicide happen so frequently in Montag's society?

3. Captain Beatty quotes history, scripture, poetry, philosophy. He is obviously a well-read man. Why hasn't he been punished? And, why does he view the books he has read with such contempt?

4. Beatty tells Montag that firemen are "custodians of peace of mind" and that they stand against "those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought." How well are the firemen accomplishing these objectives? Are conflicting ideas the only source of unhappiness in their society? What other sources might there be? Can conflicting ideas exist even without books that have been destroyed and outlawed?

5. Why do you think the firemen's rulebook credited Benjamin Franklin—writer, publisher, political leader, inventor, ambassador—as being the first fireman?

6. Why does Beatty program the Hound to track Montag even before Montag stole the book? Do you believe Beatty had seen him steal books before? Or, is it that Beatty had detected a change in Montag's attitude or behavior?

7. Montag turns to books to rescue him; instead, they help demolish his life—he loses his wife, job and home; he kills a man and is forced to be a nomad. Does he gain any benefits from books? If so, what are they?

8. Do you believe, as Montag did, that Beatty wanted to die? If so, why do you think so?

9. Since the government is so opposed to readers, thinkers, walkers, and slow drivers, why does it allow the procession of men along the railroad tracks to exist?

10. Once Montag becomes a violent revolutionary, why does the government purposely capture an innocent man in his place instead of tracking down the real Montag? Might the government believe that Montag is no longer a threat?


Adapted from http://www.readinggroupguides.com/guides3/fahrenheit_4511.asp