Lies About Books: Fahrenheit 451

Now that the snows have stopped, I’ve gotten the inkling that it might be April, which of course means it’s time for more lies about books! In the past month, I have read the book Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.

Inexplicably titled in the obscure and confusing Fahrenheit system, the title Fahrenheit 451 nevertheless obviously refers to 451 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 degrees Celsius, the temperature at which water freezes.

This becomes significant in a book rife with symbolism of water and ice, a story set in a dystopic future in which ice is outlawed. Prevented from refrigerating or freezing perishable foods, the people in this society are thus kept docile by the government with the necessity of living hand to mouth, eating fresh foods immediately because they will not keep.

But a cold spell, and the snow and ice that come with it, shatters the security of this society. One fireman – whose job it is to melt the ice with flamethrowers as soon as it is discovered – takes a block of ice home with him, putting it to work in his kitchen before it melts.

A chilling look at what we soon become without the technologies we now cherish, Fahrenheit 451 is an excellent book for thinking people – intertextual, intellectual, and interpretive. I recommend it to fans of refrigeration, literary allusion, and flamethrowers.

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