Fahrenheit 451 takes place at an unreported time in the future, in an undisclosed city in the United States. The fact that Bradbury leaves the precise details of the setting obscure has important implications for the book’s central message. Namely, the obscurity enables Bradbury to warn that disaster could lie in store for all the United States, and in the near future. Theoretically the events of Fahrenheit 451 could happen anywhere, though the actual cities Bradbury references in the book suggest that Montag lives somewhere in the middle of the country. The idea that such a dystopia could arise in the American “Heartland” makes it seem plausible that a dystopia could arise in even the most unsuspecting of regions. In addition to only providing a general sense of where the book takes place, Bradbury also only vaguely gestures to when it takes place, suggesting that disastrous social transformations could happen quickly, and that an atomic dystopia may lay on the near horizon.

Read more about dystopian literature set in a distant future in the United States in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.