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Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

A Novel

  • reading group guide
  • bestseller
  • common core
  • freshman reading
Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451673319 | 
  • January 2012 | 
  • Lexile 890L
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Reading Group Guide

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Is Bradbury accurate in his implication that 451 degrees Fahrenheit is the minimum temperature at which paper burns? Is it an implication, or does he state it as fact in the story? Does this matter to you?

2. Do you find Bradbury’s epigraph appropriate?

“If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.”—Juan Ramón Jiménez

Research Juan Ramón Jiménez. In your opinion, in what context is his quote being used?

3. Some stories can be set in any place at any time. How important is setting to Fahrenheit 451?

4. Montag is Bradbury’s protagonist, of course. But which character do you find more intriguing, which more compelling, Montag or Beatty? Is there another character with similar power?

5. Is Beatty the story’s antagonist? Are there other antagonistic forces?

6. Is Clarisse a credible character? In your opinion, does her character leave the story too abruptly? Should she have played a larger role in the novel?

7. Does Mildred actually forget that she took the pills, or is she pretending not to remember? Were the machines that treated her designed to erase the memory of a suicide attempt? What do you think led Mildred to attempt suicide?

8. Is it intelligence that saves us from surrender to the majority? Or another quality, or mix of qualities?

9. Wh see more

Articles About This Book

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In a recent interview, Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) states, “We live in a time when it’s not okay to say the truth and then learn you were wrong later.” As the Internet and its cornucopia of readily accessible information grows more...

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About the Author

Ray Bradbury
Tom Victor

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury (1920–2012) was the author of more than three dozen books, including Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and Something Wicked This Way Comes, as well as hundreds of short stories. He wrote for the theater, cinema, and TV, including the screenplay for John Huston’s Moby Dick and the Emmy Award–winning teleplay The Halloween Tree, and adapted for television sixty-five of his stories for The Ray Bradbury Theater. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, and numerous other honors.

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