Welcome to Week 2 of the Online Book Club discussion of Fahrenheit 451.
Is this your first time reading through this book, or did you read it in school? Either way, did you enjoy reading it this week? I think Ray Bradbury has an engaging writing style. I felt like the first section flew by.
The hardest thing for me to remember when reading the beginning of this book is that in this world, the firemen set fires, not fight them. Wasn't it interesting that Clarisse mentioned how firefighters used to stop fires, and Montag didn't believe her? He thought houses had always been fireproof, probably because he had only read the history that the fire chief, Captain Beatty, mentioned later in the book. Did you catch what Beatty explained? He said the first firefighter was Benjamin Franklin, and he said that the Firemen of America were established in the 1790s to burn English-inspired books in the Colonies. It's scary that history was changed so easily in the book.
What did you think of Clarisse's first conversation with Montag? She shared so much information in the few minutes they talked. Through her, we learn that cars drive really fast in their world, and billboards are extra-long so drivers can still see the advertisements. And, we learn that most people watch something called a "parlor wall," and they go to races and Fun Parks. At the end of the conversation, she mentions that her uncle was arrested for being a pedestrian. What do you think that meant? Are people not allowed to walk around in their world?
After Montag talks to Clarisse, he goes in his home and stumbles upon an unconscious Mildred. We assume that Mildred took all of those sleeping pills, even though she denies it later. Mildred's life is pretty empty, don't you think? She spends all day looking at those huge wall TVs, and she only interacts with people through the screen. I think the reason Mildred is such a scary character is because she is so similar to what we have become today. She looks at huge screens and interacts that way, and we stare at small phone screens and interact with people through those small screens. Do you think Mildred's character is similar to what we see today? Even her little seashell earphones are reminiscent to ear buds.
Did you have a hard time picturing the Mechanical Hound that lived in the fire station? I had a hard time imagining what something like that would look like. Why do you think it reacts to Montag? How does it know about his hidden stash in his air vent?
At the end of the section, Beatty has a big speech explaining books and the culture. One thing that I thought was really chilling was when he was explaining the speed of life and how the television companies wanted people moving so quickly that they wouldn't have time for "unnecessary, time-wasting thought." He explains that people just want to be happy and entertained, and to do that, they got rid of anything that made people think or anything that made people question or argue. Isn't that scary? Doesn't that seem like such a horrible world to live in? Does it seem like something that might be possible?
This section ends with Montag showing Mildred his hidden stash of 22 books. The books frighten her, but she agrees to read them with Montag. What do you think will happen when they read these books together? Do you think Montag will be able to keep hiding? Do you think he really won't go back into work?
This story is such an interesting concept, don't you think? If you want to learn more about Bradbury's inspirations and how he wrote the book, check out this article from Mental Floss. You might also want to watch the above video of Bradbury speaking at Comic-Con in 2007.
If you want to hear some behind the scenes information about the Fahrenheit 451 movie, check out the video above. Let me know if you notice any differences between the book and the movie.
Make sure to read part 2, "The Sieve and the Sand," before joining us next week. I can't wait to hear your thoughts about the first section in the comments.