Fahrenheit 451

by: Ray Bradbury

Five Key Questions

1) Why did the government ban books?

According to Beatty’s account, books slowly fell out of favor over the course of several decades when technological advancement proceeded at an ever-quickening pace. As the speed of life accelerated, people increasingly opted for simplified forms of entertainment, like television. Fast-paced living and shallow entertainment worked together to erode people’s attention spans. If people read at all, they read radically abridged books, or else indulged in the mindless pleasures of pulp fiction, comic books, and sex magazines. Society evolved in a way that privileged happiness above all else. Books, however, threatened to undermine this ideal of happiness by introducing unnecessary complexity and contradiction into people’s lives. Books were feared because they brought confusion and discontent. What began as a matter of social evolution was eventually codified in law, with the government banning books altogether and enforcing the ban through firemen, who started fires rather than putting them out.