Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illionois, on August 22, 1920. Even as a child, he was fascinated by monsters, circuses, dino-saurs and the red planet, Mars. After an encounter with a carnival in 1932, he started writing sociocritical short stories and in the 1940 he was making a living out of story-writing: in 1944 he sold about forty stories for a total of $800.
Ray Bradbury is father of two daughters and married to a former English teacher of the University of Los Angeles.
His work includes several tales set on Mars (collected in \"The Martian Chronicles\"; published in 1950), \"The Illustrated Man\" (1951), \"The Golden Apples of the Sun\" (1953).
His most famous story \"Fahrenheit 451\", which was first published in 1953, was filmed by Francois Truffaut in 1966 with Oskar Werner in the main role.
THE MAIN CHARACTERS
(a) Guy Montag is a fireman,which is a very respected job. He
likes his job, earns enough of money and has a beautiful woman
- he thinks he leads a perfect life. But later on in the
novel, his true nature unfolds as he finds out that he is not
happy at all.
(b) Mildred Montag is his wife: a very beautiful but superficial
woman who only thinks about her looks, her well-being and her
television. She spends her whole day watching stupid pro-
grammes and gossipping with her friends about unimportant
(c) Clarisse McClellan is a young teacher on probation who lives
different, which turns out in her methods of teaching and in
her way of spending her spare time. Their house is the only
one without a TV antenna which makes people wonder.
(d) Captain Beatty is Montag\'s superior. He likes him and wants to
(e) Fabian is a colleague of Montag who obviously is jealous on
him. He finds out that Guy and Clarisse are friends and sees
him stealing a book. Though is is not said if it\'s him who de-
OUTLINE OF CONTENTS
Every morning, Guy Montag takes the same train to his job as a fireman. His work is to search houses of denounced people for books and to burn them as it is strictly forbidden to read them. One morning, Clarisse addresses him. She asks him a lot of things about his work and his life that make him wonder and tells him that her uncle claims that in the past, firemen used to put out flames.
At home he finds his wife sitting in front of the TV wall - as always. She tells him that she has got a roll in a kind of inter-active television play, which she is very proud of. Watching TV has become the only meaning of her life.
The next day after work, he finds her uncounscious. She has taken a whole bottle of sleeping pills but is quickly reanimated by two operators (neither of them is an MD) who do this nine to ten times a night. When she wakes up, she does not know anything about it and denies having taken such an amount of pills. Montag has stolen a book and starts reading it secretly.
The following morning, he meets Clarisse who tells him that she has been dismissed from her work as a teacher because her lessions were different. Montag accompanies her to her school. On the floor, they meet Robert, one of her former pupils. As he sees her, he quickly runs away. Montag comforts her and tells her that he has started reading. At home Mildred tells him that she has found the book. She is shocked about it.
One day, the firemen have to search the house (including a whole hidden library) of a woman who refuses to get out when they want to burn it; she strikes the match herself and burns together with her books. Montag, very affected by this incident, reports it to his wife, who is having three other women with her. Montag reads a poem out to them. One of the women is dismayed and starts to cry. The women leave Mildred angrily.
When Montag passes the McClellan\'s house, he sees that all doors and windows are nailed up. Beatty tells him that the uncle is under arrest, but Clarisse could escape. On the train, he meets her, she wants to go back into the house to destroy some adresses of her uncle\'s friends. Montag helps her and she tells him about the Book People; men and women who vanished or escaped and now live hidden in the woods where they can do whatever they want to. Mildred leaves Guy and denounces him, Beatty forces him to burn all the books in his house himself. Montag obeys but as Fabian cries that he still has one book with him, he sets Beatty on fire and manages to escape with a copy of \"The Tales of Mystery and Imagination\" by E.A.Poe.
After a suspense-packed pursuit, he arrives in the woods where he is heartily welcome by the Book People. Their leader shows him on a portable TV set, how his capture was producted. Simply another man was shot in order to keep the audience confident.
Each one of the Book People has learned a book by heart. They hope for a better future to come when books will be allowed again. Then everyone of them will recite his book so that it can be written down anew.
THE MAIN THEMES
(a) The emptiness of modern mass culture
People are kept from thinking by the prohibition of books
and stupid TV programmes. Even newspapers are made like comic
books. There is not much communication between persons and if,
it is very superficial.
Nobody is interested in problems of others and can expect that
others understand his problems. If one is despaired, he does
not get any help apart from sleeping pills.
(b) The prohibition of books
Books are forbidden because they allegedly make people un-
happy. Beatty says that the people in those never really lived
and, even worse, all philosopher\'s works are contradictionary
and therefore there is no use reading them. This is even
drummed into the small children\'s heads.
Probably the real reason for the prohibition is that the
governmant wants to keep the people naive and superficial be-
cause they want to rule aboslutely and uncontested.
(c) The fate of \"thinking\" people
If anybody is different from the others, he quickly becomes an
outsider. For example Clarisse: she isn\'t at all interested in
the \"family\" but in her environment. She is the only one to
realize the insignificant incidents in nature which makes her
unpopular with other people. She probably became a teacher
because she wants the children to think different from their
parents who have become zombies - only thinking about their
well-being and their entertainment.
Because the pupils use to have fun in her lessions, she is
dismissed from her job.
(d) Montag\'s change of mentality
At first, Montag is very content with his job. He does not
know about anything better. Nobody has taught him to think
about his life until he meets Clarisse who asks him if he is
happy. Because he becomes interested in what makes people read
books though it is so dangerous and though it is said to make
one unhappy, he starts reading \"David Copperfield\" by Charles
Dickens. He is so keen on books that he spends every spare
QUOTATIONS FROM THE FILM
(a) \"Tell me, why do you burn books?\"
\"Well...it\'s a job like any other, good work, there\'s lots of
variety: That\'s our official motto.\" (0h 10\')
(b) \"How could someone like you ... you\'re doing this kind of
work. I know everyone says that, but you? You\'re not like
that. When I something to you, you look at me. Why\'d you
choose that job? You... it doesn\'t make any sense.\"
\"Do you remember what you asked me the other day? If I ever
read the books I burn? Last night I read one...\" (0h 47\')
(c) \"Come on, Madam. We\'re gonna burn the house.\"
\"No. I want to die as I have lived.\"
\"You must have read that in there. Now look, I\'m gonna ask you
again. Are you going?\" (1h)
(d) \"But how do you call them Book People if they don\'t do any-
thing against the law?\"
\"They ARE books. Each one, men and women. Every one. They have
a book chosen to memory. And they become the books.\" (1h 25\')
I think Francois Truffaut did a good job transforming the book into a packing movie. As I am absolutely fascinated my SF-Movies of the 60s and 70s, I like that one, too.