I finally read the novel that all of my classmates had to read last year in 11th grade English. I finally dove into Ray Bradbury’s classic tale about burning classic tales. I finally met Guy Montag and Faber. The only thing I could think about was this: Fahrenheit 451 is strikingly similar to George Orwell’s 1984. From the beginning pages, it was like I was reading the novel I’d read for 10th grade English class. (On a side note, I didn’t really enjoy 1984 because I was assigned it for summer homework and waited until the week before school started to open the book.) The two author’s style’s matched amazingly. Maybe it was the way they both described drab, futuristic worlds and characters in hopeless scenarios. Then again, maybe it wasn’t. It’s been over two years since I read the other novel, so perhaps my memory is a little hazy. Needless to say, I prefer Bradbury’s novel much more.
I had to borrow my mom’s teaching copy for this one. She had made all kinds of notes in it, and as I began to read, I began to think. I thought what every teenager thinks: “Books taught in schools are have no significant meaning. They are just books; teachers make all of that symbolism and stuff up, and nothing I’ll ever read in school will be important. Let me read what I want.” Well, as I read Fahrenheit 451, I could, for the first time, understand why a novel was read in secondary education on such a wide scale. Once I got deeper into the story, I almost wished I was forced to read it in school, guided by a teacher with a college degree.
When I first started the novel, I thought it was going to be a 1984 clone. When Guy meets Clarisse that night on the sidewalk, I was instantly reminded of Winston and Julia. I thought Oh, jeez. Not this again. Protagonist has slight thoughts of rebellion and meets chick who is just as much if not more rebellious and they both decide to rebel and then thingsruntogetherlikethisandohmygoshmaeitstopmakeitstop! Clarisse was as unique as Guy was drab, but after her quick death I was left wondering why she had even appeared in the novel in the first place. Surely Bradbury could have worked in another way to plant the rebellion seed rather than wasting my time with 10 pages of dialogue that end up meaningless? He killed her off so fast I wasn’t sure if I was reading Fahrenheit 451 or Game of Thrones!
I have to devote an entire paragraph to my most hated character in the book, Mildred. I don’t normally hate entire characters because I can normally find a redeeming quality about them somewhere, but I have nothing of the sort for Guy Montag’s wife. She is 10 times more boring than any character I’ve ever read about. I wanted to strangle her for being so brainwashed and idiotic! She drove me insane! It’s good when you get attached to characters, but not attached to the point where you wanna go Jason Vorhees on ’em! I understand that her role was important to Montag’s character, but OH MY GOSH WAS IT HARD TO DEAL WITH! Nicely done, Ray Bradbury. You got just the reaction you wanted, I’m sure. You also managed to take years off my life from stressing over Mildred’s stupidity, so thanks for that, too.
I enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 for the most part. I can only recall a section of about 20 pages that I struggled to get through, but I fault Bradbury for that; I’m just not convinced he can write an action scene. One with dialogue? He’s one of the best. But the scene where SPOILERS!!! Montag is eluding the mechanical hound by the river? BORING! (Sad to say that what should have been the most intense part of the book lulled me into the deepest part of sleep.) However, that one minor flaw should not distract from the overall brilliance of the story.
I tried to take this novel at face value as the story of some dude who burned books but decided he didn’t wanna do it anymore so he quit and this and that and this and that. However, as I read I couldn’t help but notice all of the ideas about the future that have actually come true today (big TV screens, bluetooth, not much value is placed on the pursuit of knowledge) and that if this warped version of Earth were ever to exist, it would suck a fat one, so it needs to be avoided at all costs. Knowledge is the key to running society, so we cannot take it for granted. Maybe there is something to it when a child says “I’m bored!” and the mother replies with “Go read a book!”
1984 has been called Orwell’s “warning” to mankind; Let me tell you, Bradbury’s is much darker and more realistic. It’s a fire none of us want to start.
-The next thing to mark off the list is Edgar Allen Poe. I’m going to be reading 5 of his stories and posting my thoughts in one giant review. I’ll try to get a mix of popular and lesser-known ones into the pool. I’m dying to read A Clockwork Orange, but I have yet to order it from Amazon. I’m ordering a few books and their movie counterparts soon, but until then I have to make to with what I have. Poe it is.