Author’s Purpose in Fahrenheit 451
In both Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and our world today, the government uses censorship to control the thoughts and actions of the people. Censorship is very immoral and terrible for humanity. Censorship keeps people in the dark about the government and its happenings, and does not allow free thinking and drawing conclusions for oneself because of the lack of information to come to a decision using one’s best judgment. The censorship described by Ray Bradbury in a futuristic world is not far off from some of the examples of censorship we see in today’s world.
When the government censors information from the public and controls what people know or do not know about the government’s activities, it creates ignorance. Because of censorship, people do not have the information they need to make informed decisions about who they are going to vote for and why. In Fahrenheit 451, Mrs. Bowles says, “I voted last election, same as everyone, and I laid it on the line for President Noble. I think he’s one of the nicest looking men ever to become president” (96). Mrs.
Bowles is saying that she voted for a man simply because of his looks, rather than on his plans of how he is going to run the country. There is very little rationale in that this man is going to be running the country, and all people care about is what he looks like. The reason the population does this is because the government censors out all the information, beliefs, and stances on political views so people do not know any better. The government censors out political ideas in the book because they want to control the information that gets to the public.
Captain Beatty says to Montag, “If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none” (61). Beatty is telling Montag that people are happier when they do not have to worry or think about a problem, so by not giving them any information, it is better for them. Then there will be no fighting amongst political parties. People are easier to control when they only know the information the government wants them to know.
One can see this in today’s world by certain websites that favor either Democratic or Republican parties, showing news that benefits that particular party. Also, there are articles written in the newspaper and programs on television and radio that give information that favors one party over another. Censorship about the government is very harmful to a nation and its political affairs. When the government gives people only the information it wants them to know to control how they think, it makes it hard for people to make decisions about anything because they forget how to think for themselves.
While talking to Montag, Beatty says, “Cram them [the people] full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed…Then they’ll feel like they’re thinking” (61). Beatty is saying that to make people feel like they are learning and thinking, make them learn useless facts about nothing. People will be so engaged about things like how much corn Iowa produces in one year that they will not actually do any thinking or decision making about what the government is doing. The government will get to continue to do whatever it wants without anyone questioning them.
This is still in the world today in the form of game or trivia shows. We glorify shows like “Survivor” and “Shark Tank” and watch them on TV with the chance of the contestant winning a lot of money. Yet, the questions are always simple, black and white. There is no thinking about what the government is doing or any political issues, just on what the contestant needs to do to win money. A little later in the talk with Beatty and Montag, Beatty says, “Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. ” (61).
What Beatty is explaining is that philosophy and sociology are complex and dicey subjects. He is right; they are very complex and intricate, and everyone has a different opinion. What he is wrong about is that he is telling Montag that they are evil and bring sadness. Philosophy and sociology promote thinking and questioning the world around oneself, something the government does not like people doing. When people start asking questions and thinking about political issues, the government has a much harder time controlling people and doing whatever it wants.
The government still does this today to an extent. The core classes in school are math, reading, writing, science, and history. None of those include philosophy or sociology. To be fair, people can still take philosophy or sociology, they are just less common and not as important to the government as math, reading, writing, science, and history are. If the government censors out all the important information and just gives the people useless ‘facts’, then the people will be unfit to make their own decisions about life and other vital areas. In conclusion, censorship is very corrupt and abysmal for society.
The two big reasons are lack of information about one’s own government, and censorship does not allow one to think for oneself and come up with answers to life’s significant questions. These questions cannot be answered with the names of the state capitals or the lyrics to a popular song. They can only be answered with philosophy and sociology, subjects that actually make people think. If the government censors what information gets out to the public, the public remains ignorant and the government has control over all the decisions that are made.