Where Are We Headed?
Imagine living in a world where you are not in control of your own thoughts, where all the great thinkers of the past have been blurred from existence. In a world where life no longer involves beauty but instead, a controlled system that the government is capable of manipulating into anything they want. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, such a world is brought to pass as the reader engages in a description of the impacts of censorship forced on people living in this futuristic society. In a civilization where all individuality and personal thought is forbidden. All that is left is a senseless society unaware of their path of self destruction; they know only what the government wants them to know. By creating a world parallel to our own, Bradbury warns us of a future we very well could on the path to: a future of mind manipulation, misused technology, ignorance, and hatred. While Bradbury’s idea of a frightening future is very probable in some aspects; we can steer away from that path because we yearn to be well informed and curious towards the world.
As the gravity of this nightmare Bradbury suggests becomes more frequent in our world today, we notice several similarities between our current world and the futuristic society Bradbury portrays. Montag, the protagonist of Fahrenheit 451 wants to know why his society is so unaware about the world; he is frustrated with the constant war and being ignorant of why they are always at war. “Is it because we’re having so much fun at home we’ve forgotten the world? Is it because we are so rich and the rest of the world is just so poor we don’t care if they are? I’ve heard rumors; the world is starving, but we’re all well fed” (73). This is very similar to our world today because frequently we take all that we have for granted; while we always have food on the table, safety, and great schooling. We forget about other places in the world that are so poor, and do we ever do anything about it? As demonstrated in the book they do not know anything about the world, they are kept completely oblivious. In our world we have the capability to be well informed, but we definitely do not take advantage of the resources we have. As young boy a cruel cousin challenged Montag to fill a sieve with sand to make a fool out of him. “…he sat trying to fill a sieve with sand…the faster he poured the faster if sifted through…” (78). I like to think of the sand as our knowledge or understanding, and the sieve as our comprehension. Often we just cram for a test, take the test and forget everything we ‘learned’. It’s just like the sieve and the sand, as the sand goes into the sieve it is only there for a short time before it sifts through. Any attempt to keep the sand in the sieve will fail, right? Wrong. What if you were to add water to the sand, to give it a greater consistency and potentially it would stay in the sieve? The water or what makes it stick is us actually learning and realizing a concept. In the world of Fahrenheit 451 no thinking or applying ever happens, thus making every learning event just sift right through them. This is similar with our world; often we do no apply things and learn from them, if we practiced this and grew from our daily experiences we would gain much more knowledge.
As a generation that is very curious towards the world, we will never be brainwashed into complete censorship and isolation of our surroundings. Montag knows that his community is hated, but does not know why, he then thinks that books could get them out of the hole and make them aware of why things are the way they are. “Why are we hated so much? Do you know why? I sure don’t! Maybe books can get us out of the cave. They might just stop us from making the same insane mistakes over and over” (74). The world of Fahrenheit 451 does not know anything about other places in the world, but our generation, is far too curious to let that ever come to pass. We like to be well informed about what is going on is our society, but also in other societies too. In addition if we did not keep track of what happens in both our society and others’ we would just keep making the same mistakes others have made; we would never progress. Granger a leader of the “Book People” has committed his life to preserving literature; his goal is to get the people to remember. “When they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, we’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And one day we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest steam shovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove our war in and cover it up” (164). This passage from the book really demonstrates well how they want to remember, and know what happened in the past. They want to get rid of war and to comprehend why things are the way they are. In knowing this, I do not believe us as the assertive people we are today would ever let the government take that much control.
Although Bradbury’s prediction of an alarming future is possible in some ways; still, we can change our destiny because we desire to be very well up to date and knowledgeable about the world. In conclusion this forecast of the future could never come to pass because, we have the ability to think deeply about things, and this will keep us strong in loving literature. Additionally we are too curious of people to let the government censor so much of our lives. We like to have authority and to have a say in society controversies, nevertheless our society could never reach the severity of the foreshadowed fantasy world of Fahrenheit 451.