Man I feel like this is the accomplishment of the century. I’ve never had more of a hard time reading a book since Pride and Prejudice back in 9th grade. To be sure, people are not going to like that I didn’t like this book. But oh well, maybe if I had read the graphic novels I would have liked it more. I assumed I would like this because it’s supposed to be so “good” and all. But now I’m even more firm in my opinion that classics are books everyone wants to have read, but no one wants to read. I have a couple strong opinions about this book I’ll just list them here.

Women in Fahrenheit 451
I have many feelings about Bradbury, particularly how I feel about his opinions of women. Can I just say there are NO women characters in this book that are fully fleshed out or even have an impact in any way. Mildred is supposed to be this mindless robot who doesn’t think and doesn’t interact or respond to anything except her TV, “We don’t have enough TVs!! Let’s buy a 4th wall!!” Montag: “But we just bought the 3rd one and it was my whole years paycheck. We can’t.” Yeah, like I haven’t heard that stereotype before. Then there’s her friends who are all portrayed as promiscuous and unfeeling and “who cares if my husband is gone I’ll just get remarried.” None of these women are portrayed in even a semi-positive light.

“But what about Clarisse?” you cry! Yeah well, she might be someone Montag is supposed to get along with, but is she really an important character? My good friend Jenna pointed out Montag had already been hoarding books in his AC vent, so what exactly is the point of her? I guess you could say she represents the best of humanity and how it’s destroyed when we resort to unintelligent conversations.

I just felt like, she was just there. Like there’s nothing distinct about her except that she likes to look up at the sky instead of the tv and she likes to talk with her parents about stuff that’s happening (critical thought) but she just dies. We don’t get anything about why it was significant. I was expecting her death to mean something, but it’s like he didn’t want to deal with writing her anymore or something. Women are supposed to be the emotional ones in touch with their thoughts, except when they’re not and they’re just dead or made out to be unintelligent. I digress.

Writing
I wasn’t much of a fan of the writing. I think it lacked fluidity and the ability to emotionally engage the reader. Personally I think this book would function better as a short story. I found getting into the book difficult, but after meeting Clarisse it picked up a bit. After Clarisse left the only other parts of the book I thought were compelling were when he’s talking with the captain after he’s caught with the books, and when he’s talking with the professors/outcasts. I think you could potentially cut out 50-70 pages and the book would have the same effect.

Lessons I learned from this book/things I liked

  • An object that is at rest stays at rest. Mildred and co. didn’t want to hear/discuss literature because it was “too hard.” They didn’t want to break their watching TV/not thinking streak. Yes learning is hard; education is work. I don’t know anyone who would say it isn’t.
  • I think the real moral of this story is not censorship (although that’s definitely a present theme). Genuinely, I think the most important take away is to have productive discussions that challenge your paradigms and biases. I don’t think TV is the root of all evil; there’s tons of good TV shows. Reading isn’t the only way to learn. But what really happened is people stopped talking about them. I have some really good friends and they don’t read much. They mostly enjoy watching movies and then having discussions about them. Is that any better than reading? I don’t think so. It’s a media they consume and then talk about. There’s not a lot of difference. So in reality, as long as people continue to have intelligent discussions, society will be OK.
  • Teachers and intellectuals are scorned in this world and I think it’s funny how similar that is to now. Not literally, but figuratively. Teachers are vastly underpaid and underappreciated disrespected et al and all people want to do these days is watch TV that doesn’t promote any kind of learning.
  • I feel relieved I’m done with it. I really had to plug away at this book and it took me a month. I feel happy I’m done with it.