Studying literature is an eye-opening experience and helps in construction of valuable society and enriches people’s life. People understand the philosophical ideas and movements that pervaded different cultures at different time periods through studying literatures. The role of literature could be divided into two types, active and passive-engaging and reflective. The action of reading and writing represent the active role of literature which could be a major development of an individual. People form ideas and opinions about the society. These ideas and opinions then form into an ideology derives people’s engagement, motivation, and action in the society. The reflective role of literature is more about observed things rather than done things, people observe and then derive them to think. The ideologies and action are major developments of a society. In the book “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, the author creates a dystopian society where books have been forbidden. Author often speaks to the readers through the characters. First, Clarisse, a young girl represents individuality, free-thinking, and artist in the story. She represents the conflict for the society. In early of the novel, conversations between Montag and Clarisse, she mentions how the society get caught up with speed where people desire fast things and instant feelings and how their lives become feelingless and superficial. And Captain Beatty, the captain of the firemen who holds an anti-book rage. He hates the contradictory of books, he hates to think because thinking does not give him the “instant” answer. Says Beatty, “speed up the film, Montag, quick… Whirl man’s mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!”. He misses the point of literature, he misses the importance of literature because he wants everything fast and faster. Also, Beatty tells Montag how the society came to become the way it is now earlier in the story, because certain people were offended by certain books, so they cleansed of anything seen as offensive to the point where they had no meaning or value things because they were so bland which caused people to stop reading and eventually to stop thinking, too.
Books, says in the book, is where the “norms” will receive the knowledge. This definition is just accurate for the society in the story. People in the society only know what is told to them in a very diluted way. Bradbury warns against censorship. Bradbury is encouraging people to read. By having Beatty says of what happen to a civilization if they only want live fast life thus miss the importance of reading, of literature, of life.
Often, author speaks through the character, Professor Faber, an educated man who was a former teacher, and someone who still in love with books because he remembers the how the life was before books became illegal. Faber still can remembers the power of written words and the emotions he receives from reading literature, and the impact of books on others. However, he has been living under shame, since he was unwilling to publicly revoke new laws of turning firemen into book-burners. Faber repeatedly reminds readers the purpose of literature serve in human civilization. He defines the value of books by saying it is not book Montag needs to be look for, but the contents and thoughts that writer put in the book. These ideas, beliefs, emotions, views, life meaning in the books are the what define literature-their true value. Books, to Faber were “only one receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget”. To Faber, books are where people stored their great thoughts and the result of their conscientious comprehensions undertaken by humans. Faber also says, “Books show the pores in the face of life.” By saying this, he means that books allow people to think and to form their own opinions and ideas based on reality, even if the reality isn’t always pretty. People can have well rounded knowledge through different angels of view. Faber then goes on to say the knowledge is out there in the world can also be found and be gained in books through the extensive experience, yet not everyone gets the opportunities to get all the experience needed, therefore, it is where books came in.
Through this book, Bradbury wants people to understand the importance of literature, both active role and passive role of literature- reading and thinking. He constantly reminds readers the consequences of not appreciate literatures in the book. The quote, “You don’t have to burn book to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them” pretty much sums up the main message he wants to develop through this book. People do not need to hurt literature “physically”, that won’t be the worst way to treat literature. The worst way to treat literature is not reading it, waste the chance to understand the unknown things, waste all the ideologies and emotions that writers put in, and waste the opportunity to live a better live. All these wastes eventually lead you to destruction, or more, lead the whole civilization to destruction.