Books can have a huge impact on societies, for they can provide help and advice in a wide variety of situations. They show the uncensored way of living, with its own ups and downs. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 warns against a society where books are banned since technology controls citizens’ decisions, results in living sad and empty lives and limits individualism.
The removal of books within this society causes technology to take over citizen’s lives, losing the importance of family and community within the people. Parlor walls, large television screens, play a major role in their lives. It offers a sort of comfort and allows citizens to believe that they are in a ‘family’. Mildred states, “my ‘family’ is people. They tell things; I laugh, they laugh!” (Bradbury 69). Although this may offer instant contentment in one’s life, it is false. In fact, this society is not connected at all through parlors. These characters fear their emotions, and without emotions, no community can be built. A foundation can only be built on pressure both physically and mentally, which these characters are inclined to do. Mildred and many others are ignorant of the fact that these technologies are a way to pacify her need for more. These walls provide “plays [that comes] on the wall-to-wall circuit” (Bradbury 17). These plays and dramas are a means to connect ‘family’ together. Even Montag begins to see what parlors actually are, “my parlor is nothing but four plaster walls” (Bradbury 80). Montag understands the uselessness of parlor’s in these citizens’ lives when captured by books, and instead focuses his attention on these newfound books. With the dominance of technology in society, no one is truly happy especially without the help of books.
Fahrenheit 451 proves that without books, people are left with meaningless lives, where no emotion can be expressed. The citizens of this dystopian society show that their life is empty. Parlor walls are not able to offer more than anything that can comfort their senses, books, on the other hand, can ease one’s heart. Faber states “[Books does provide] the same infinite detail and awareness [which] could be projected through the radios and televisions, but are not” (Bradbury 78). These movies shown in this society are unable to pick out those small details and emotions which books can. Books have the capability to produce natural emotions such as sadness and anger, which people try to ignore. Citizens begin to unknowingly wear this mask of happiness, which covers their doubt and other emotions. Montag determines that “He was not happy… He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask” (Bradbury 9). Through the intervention of Clarisse and her questioning of this society he grew up in, Montag begins to understand how unhappy he really is. This ‘mask’ is able to protect one’s self from real emotions, something this community fears. This fearfulness derives from the fact that it was never there before and so it is thought to be nonexistent. Montag is able to see how empty his and many others lives are without books. Books are able to give life to the inhabitants in this society and can be exhibited when Montag reads the poetry, “Mrs. Phelps was crying… ‘I’ve always said, poetry and tears, poetry and suicide and crying and awful feelings’” (Bradbury 97). Montag is able to experience the strength of literature over the people. Through the expulsion of books in this civilization, citizens are avoiding any feelings or emotions. They are scared of feeling sadness and happiness, instead, they want to live in this perfect society where no emotion can affect them. Due to this, they tend to keep emotionless and loveless relationships with one another. Mildred’s friend states she and her husband have decided for her to have “no tears, nothing like that… [she can] just go right ahead and [not] cry…[instead] get married again” if he dies in war (Bradbury 91). Citizens are afraid of tears and want them eliminated, so they stay away from any emotional relationships which can hurt them. The removal of books from society causes citizens to fear emotions and any close relationships with anyone else.
Through the expulsion of books in this dystopian community, ideas of individualism are removed and community growth is inhibited. No one is different from another, instead, everyone's the same. Beatty explains the different people within this society when he states, “We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man is the image of every other” (Bradbury 55). Everyone is expected to be exactly the same as another. Anyone who does otherwise is hunted down or isolated. When Montag is found, the TV set begins announcing the hunt for him, stating “Guy Montag. Still running. Police Helicopters are up. A new Mechanical Hound has been brought from another district- ''. (Bradbury 126). Clarisse’s family, on the other hand, is isolated due to their idiosyncratic way of looking at the world around them. This general unapproval of individuality results in trying to make people change. Clarisse's quirky and different way of looking at the world prompts people to believe that she needs to change, she needs to be ‘normal’. Clarisse states, “‘I’ve got to go see my psychiatrist now. They make me go… He says I’m a regular onion! I keep him busy peeling away the layers’” (Bradbury 20). They want to make everyone this ‘regular onion’, and due to this no new ideas can be made and this society cannot improve. If books were allowed in this society, people would be ready to question theories and make new discoveries since books can provide knowledge that was not there before. In a culture where individuality is rejected, is difficult for a society to grow and expand.
Bradbury speaks of the detrimental effects of having a society where books are banned. This society results in a community where technology restricts citizen rights, their lives are empty, and individuality is gone. In today’s world, technology is needed for everything whether it is finding a way home or contacting someone. Technology has a big part in the lives of people today, but technology should not have full control over one’s life. Through the rise in technology and competition, people’s lives tend to get more empty or emotionless. People today are expected to be alike to another, individual opinions are not always appreciated and may sometimes reject. Ray Bradbury through his book warns today’s society of the mistakes found in this futuristic community.