Feature Article by Hali Coombs
Most high schoolers today are required to read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 as a part of the literature curriculum. Even though the book was written in 1953, 66 years ago, students (who actually read and understand the story) find that the book is somehow still relevant…Incredibly relevant.
How could a book that was written over half a century ago still apply to the modern day, even if set in dystopian futuristic years when the future is so uncertain? However, some may argue that it’s more relevant today than it was back in the 1950s! Some students have even come to the belief that Bradbury is actually psychic and predicted the future, so today, let’s examine that and countdown the top four things Fahrenheit 451 predicted.
- Earbuds/Air Pods. In the book, earbuds were seen as ‘seashells’ and were used to blast stuff into the people’s ears, distracting them from reality, and everyone was wearing them. If you take a quick look around school today, you’ll find that everyone is doing just that–Blocking out the world with their earbuds, and the wireless Airpods or the larger Beats may even look like seashell varieties. Continual use, even in schools, has gotten so bad that there are policies in place to limit use while in classrooms.
2. “The Wall” TV. Recently, Samsung introduced a 219-inch TV that, at first glance, sounds great! Isn’t that just more space to watch TV and play video games on? While yes, it sounds cool to have a mini movie theater in your own home, but this sounds very similar to the TVs they had in Fahrenheit 451 called, by no surprise, the Walls, where you could get them on every wall so your tv show can surround you. Anyway, what did Samsung call this giant TV? The Wall.
- HTTP 451. The name is no joke. The government has the right to block websites “for legal reasons”–an act called HTTP 451. While this doesn’t entail burning books, it could be argued that this intervention is basically metaphorically burning down the website or limiting information. People can report these websites in to be blocked! And the most eerie part is that they actually named it after Fahrenheit 451. The government is watching.
- Censorship of Books. In Minnesota, a school district dropped two books from their required reading list. To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Why these two books? The school says that it’s because of their use of racial slurs even though both books are against racism. Some people find this to be senseless censorship like the censorship in Fahrenheit 451.
So now that we know that Ray Bradbury is truly a prophet of the future, what do we do now? How can we stop the depressed, bookless world presented in Fahrenheit 451? Well the answer is simpler than you think. Read.
I know that the majority of students I’ve spoken to express a dislike for reading, but the only reason (according to Ray Bradbury) Fahrenheit 451’s society turned out like it did was because people stopped reading.
“I was not predicting the future, I was trying to prevent it.” Ray Bradbury said to an interviewer when asked about his book becoming a reality. There has been in a major drop in students reading across America, and if we don’t do something about it, well, make sure you have some matches ready.