Ray Bradbury’s classic, Fahrenheit 451, was published in 1953. Over 40 years ago, it was required reading at my school. It’s a dystopian novel that has huge applicability today. It impacted me many decades ago and I wanted to read it again.
The main character, Montag, is a fireman with his symbolic helmet that says Fahrenheit 451—the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns. Firefighters are called to burn houses, books, and if need be, people, because books are banned.
Below are passages from the book that resonated with me as well as three songs that came to mind with specific passages.
- You never stop to think what I’ve asked you.
- Do you ever read any of the books you burn?
- Are you happy?
- What do you talk about?
- Nobody knows anyone.
- Do you notice how people hurt each other these days?
- My uncle says his grandfather remembered when children didn’t kill each other.
- Nobody says anything different from anyone else.
- There was a list of one million forbidden books.
- When burning books, you weren’t hurting anyone, you were hurting only things.
- There was nothing to tease your conscience later.
- How do you get so empty?
- Nobody listens anymore. (Reminds me of Demi Lovato’s song, Anyone. Lyrics below)
ANYONE I tried to talk to my piano I tried to talk to my guitar Talk to my imagination Confided into alcohol I tried and tried and tried some more Told secrets ’til my voice was sore Tired of empty conversation ‘Cause no one hears me anymore
A hundred million stories And a hundred million songs I feel stupid when I sing Nobody’s listening to me Nobody’s listening I talk to shooting stars But they always get it wrong I feel stupid when I pray So, why am I praying anyway? If nobody’s listening
Anyone, please send me anyone Lord, is there anyone? I need someone, oh Anyone, please send me anyone Lord, is there anyone? I need someone
I used to crave the world’s attention I think I cried too many times I just need some more affection Anything to get me by
A hundred million stories And a hundred million songs I feel stupid when I sing Nobody’s listening to me Nobody’s listening I talk to shooting stars But they always get it wrong I feel stupid when I pray Why the fuck am I praying anyway? If nobody’s listening
Anyone, please send me anyone Lord, is there anyone? I need someone, oh Anyone, please send me anyone Oh, Lord, is there anyone? I need someone Oh, anyone, I need anyone Oh, anyone, I need someone
A hundred million stories And a hundred million songs I feel stupid when I sing Nobody’s listening to me Nobody’s listening
Demi Lovato, Anyone
- How long has it been since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?
- We must all be alike.
- Firefighters who burn books are custodians of our peace of mind.
- Books say nothing.
- The world is starving and we’re well fed. Is that why we’re hated so much?
- I saw the way things were going, a long time back. I said nothing. I’m one of the innocents who could have spoken up and out when no one would listen to the “guilty,” but I did not speak and thus became guilty myself.
- Books are hated and feared because they show the pores of life.
- When you’ve got nothing to lose, you run any risk you want. (Reminds me of Kris Kristofferson’s lyrics to Me and Bobby McGee: Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.)
- Books are to remind us what asses and fools we are.
- The only way the average chap will see ninety-nine percent of the world is through books.
- A little learning is a dangerous thing.
- The dignity of truth is lost without much protesting.
- Live as if you would drop dead in ten seconds. (Reminds me of Tim McGraw’s song, Live Like You Were Dying: Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.)
Fahrenheit 451 is shockingly prophetic and frightening with its implications.
Highly recommend reading or re-reading it!