2 Oct

Fahrenheit 451 Reflection Essay

Modern day America parallels often to the world constructed in Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451. Some may even argue that he predicted the future with this book. The characters in the story often times turned away from conflict and choices. They have instead turned to consumerism and factual knowledge. But not only does that compare to modern America, but it was also reflected in the society that Bradbury lived in.

Avoiding conflict is a habit that the people in Fahrenheit 451 and America both share. While it may not be good to constantly fight, there is also a need for diversity, which will always cause problems. The only way to make it so that people get along is to make them all the same and hold the same ideals, which is very strongly seen in this book, but it is also seen in America. Right now the people of America seem to endorse the idea of allowing everyone to do as they please as long as it doesn’t bother anyone else. In both cases the people slowly stop caring about anything other people do except when they can benefit from the other person. Other than that though, apathy serves almost the same purpose as fire does in Fahrenheit 451 in that it “destroys responsibility and consequences. A problem gets too burdensome, then into the furnace with it” (p. 115). Apathy and fire are both temporary fixes to problems that cannot really be cured. This has to do with self-censorship and how people in America will refuse to voice their opinions, or even develop an opinion because society doesn’t allow people to direct their passions toward something controversial. In the book, they stopped the developing of opinions all together, which is a plausible reality for America at the rate they are currently running.

Not only do people avoid conflict, but they also avoid choices altogether. In the book they show an extreme example of this, with people having hardly any choice at all. Beatty on page 61 pointed out that to make a man happy one shouldn’t “give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none”. With this, people end up being told who to vote for or what they should feel so that eventually they don’t care at all. Applying specifically to politics, in America there seems to be a growing disinterest in politics, especially by the younger generations. They may vote, but often times it’s because someone told them to vote, not because they really wanted to. They were also probably told what their opinion should be and don’t develop much of their own. It is much easier to listen and follow what others tell you to follow. At this point, people would be just as happy to not have a choice at all. This could provide a reason as to why currently Donald Trump is having so much success in presidential poles, because his voice is the loudest. People enjoy him telling them that he is the best for the job, even if he isn’t. The lines between choice and manipulation are blurred, leading a person to believe manipulation, is choice.

Once a person avoids conflict and choices it leaves them very susceptible to dangers, such as being convinced as to what really constitutes as knowledge. People have to believe that they are still smart when they don’t have opinions so it’s best to “cram them full of noncombustible data” (p. 61). When people know facts they can sound very smart and knowledgeable. In Bradbury’s novel, this knowledge came with knowing everything that was happening with their “family”. In America, knowledge comes with good grades in school. In both cases it is defined by the memorization of facts and coming up with false connections to make them sound more intelligent, but in reality their knowledge is only made up of facts. People often forget the true definition of knowledge, and it isn’t memorizing information. It often comes with conflict and choices, but because those are dangerous for people, it’s easier to just say they are smart when they can know names of the capitals to all the countries in the world. What’s even better is if everyone knows the name of the capitals to all the countries.

While the points Bradbury’s book parallel with modern America, he wasn’t necessarily predicting the future. Many of the issues in this book were also prevalent in the 1950’s; specifically, consumerism. People during the 1950’s were in the middle of the Cold War yet they were trying to pretend that it wasn’t by increasing spending and partaking in more leisurely past times. This obviously correlates to the mentality of the people in Fahrenheit 451 where they let other people “do all the worrying” (p. 94). They don’t need to worry because they are not directly involved. Instead they buy a new wall screen or, in the case of people in the 1950’s, they will go to a baseball game. They are distracting themselves from reality and that is something that Bradbury would have been influenced by when writing his book. It also, however, continues to apply to modern America. There may not be a threat of nuclear war, but there are other wars happening and other major issues in other countries (such as the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the threat of ISIS) that American people have unconcerned themselves with. They ignore immediate dangers because people think that it couldn’t ever directly affect them. America has not changed in this; the issues have only been changed and the distractions adjusted.

Fahrenheit 451 plays on the idea that the values of people are skewed, showing that people would rather value “noncombustible facts” and consumer products than allow for conflict and choice. He writes a world that reflects how both his society worked and, unknowingly, how modern America works today. It shows the mindset of the modern populace. In the show Mad Men, there is a great quote that summarizes this mind set by Donald Draper where he says, “People want to be told what to do so badly that they will listen to anyone.”

 

Works Cited

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Del Rey Book, 1953. Print.

15 Sep

Dystopian Utopian World

Before writing this script, I was dreading being forced to write one because there was no good original story line that I could come up with that would fit with the play format, so instead I decided to write an unoriginal story as a satire piece. I also thought this would be the best genre to play a sort of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” thing where the main character breaks the fourth wall constantly while everyone else around him didn’t notice. I began writing with a vague idea in mind but the more I wrote, the more I found myself really enjoying the story. It’s now actually probably one of my favorite pieces of writing that I have done.

A 1 Act Play

Cast List

 Harvey Jones………………………………………………………….…A male student at Dippy High. He tries hard to be rebellious.

Mr. Varns…………..………………….……………………………….…………………………………..……A male teacher at Dippy High.

Jesse…………………..……….……………………………………………………..…………..…….………A male student at Dippy High.

Sandra……………………………………………………………………………….………………..………A female student at Dippy High.

 

 

Scene:

Dippy High school

Time:

Future. Some 800 years from now.

 

Scene:

There is a school classroom. The only colors that are used are black, gray, and white. There are about 12 or so students, all wearing gray that are all looking straight ahead at a teacher standing at the front of the room who is lecturing. Everyone has both hands folded on their desks and are very still. There is a drawing on the board of a person giving a sheet of paper to another person who wasn’t really paying attention. Harvey is sitting in the back of the room tapping his finger on the side of his leg. He is sitting slightly away from everyone else.

 

Opening:

As the curtain opens the teacher is lecturing loudly to a room full of students. He is talking about the laws of the land that they are forced to follow. Harvey is tapping the side of his leg rhythmically but silently. The focus is on Harvey with a spotlight but all the other lights are still up. All the other students are staring blankly ahead.

VARNS

…Because of this, we have been made into the greatest unity of people ever in history. The times before this were terrible and people were allowed to do whatever they wanted, like buy eggs without the permission from the government.

[students gasp and recoil a little bit. A few look away in disbelief]

[HARVEY rolls his eyes a little bit]

 

JESSE

[raises hand and is called on]

You mean people didn’t have their own food shopping advisor?

 

VARNS

Not only that, but they went to shop for their own clothes and had… choice.

[Students gasp a little louder and mutter a little bit. They look away from the teacher. HARVEY looks with some excitement towards the front of the room.]

SILENCE!

[students quickly become silent and resume the position of hands on desk and face straight forward. Harvey resumes a bored face.]

 

I know this is shocking news but that does not mean you can act like absolute hooligans! Now listen closely! The reason we have these laws is to control social order. The reason we have social order is because…

 

CLASS

[HARVEY mumbles halfheartedly]

Without social order the Unity will fall and chaos will rule all.

Dippy saved us. He will not betray us.

 

VARNS

Good, now write a 1,000 word paper on why Dippy is the ultimate power and why he is correct when he says choice is bad.

[at the same time, all the students reach for a pencil and paper, places them on their desk and begin to write. MR. VARNS goes and sits at his desk and looks at the students. Suddenly everyone freezes and HARVEY stands up in the back of the room. All the lights go dark and there is a single spotlight on Harvey. He turns to the audience and begins]

 

HARVEY

I hate all of this [waves his hand around the room] so much. No freedom, I can’t wear colored clothing, I never leave the confines of a building because of our complex system of tunnels and walkways that never require leaving. [sigh] There is nothing ever to do but write papers on Dippy and talk about why choice is bad.

[HARVEY begins to cross the stage toward MR.VARNS’ desk.]

I just want a chance

[looks up dramatically]

to live like the people

[puts hand in a fist and puts it straight up defiantly in front of body.]

in dystopian novels from years ago.

[pauses, then continues]

You see, I found this library full of ancient books in one of the old halls. It’s been disposed of now but I had a chance to read some really cool books while it was still there, like the Hunger Games, and Allegiant, and Uglies.

Those people had such cool adventures. They got to find all these secrets and worked to overthrow their government with their friends. They all got to fall in love. It sounds like so much fun! But every time I try and rebel I just get thrown in solitary confinement and can’t eat for a few days. I’ve been doing it for, like, 3 months now and I haven’t even found another person to follow me to try and take a stand. They just all continue on like I’m not special, like I’m not trying to start a revolution or anything. And I’ve tried to get friends to help me in my revolution, I really have.

[walks over to JESSE and pats his frozen body on the back.]

Like Jesse here. My bed pod is next to his bed pod and we once pondered the idea of skipping our nightly cleanse.

[mumbled and trailing off] We never actually did it, because he didn’t want to get in trouble…

[exclamation] BUT he was interested so I figured I’d ask him if he wanted to be my rebellion friend, but then all he did was report me and I got three days of special assimilation training which was awf-

[JESSE suddenly jumps out of his frozen position and sits straight up looking straight forward. HARVEY looks at JESSE, startled but tries to play it off.]

 

JESSE

[chants] We love assimilation because it unifies the nation.

Don’t make a friend or it will spell your end.

[JESSE resumes previous position. HARVEY looks at the audience again]

 

HARVEY

Creepy. But that’s how everyone is anymore. That’s about how Sandra [HARVEY walks over to SANDRA and gestures to her] reacted when I talked to her about becoming my romantic interest. You see once she fell down in the hallway and I’d never seen anyone do that before so I asked if she wanted to fall in love so that we –

[SANDRA suddenly jumps out of his frozen position and sits straight up looking straight forward. HARVEY looks at SANDRA and is startled but makes an even more exaggerated effort to play it off.]

 

SANDRA

We do not fall in love. We only care for Dippy above.

[HARVEY looks slightly confused then unamused then resumes.]

 

HARVEY

Did you even hear that one? It’s so ridiculous. I believe in a thing called Love. I think Love has the power to save this broken world [HARVEY looks very inspired]

[pause]

But then also did you hear that name in there again? Dippy? Gosh that’s such a lame name. Out of all the people how was Dippy the one to take charge and why did he insist on keeping his name? I mean at least in those books that I read the leaders have really menacing names that make them sound like a real force to be reckoned with. Dippy just sounds like that if I could beat him in a game of hopscotch I could win back the country. I mean, how did Dippy even get into power. He doesn’t –

[MR. VARNS pops up quickly and speaks very loudly. HARVEY is startled badly and doesn’t have time to play it off.]

 

VARNS

[shouting] Dippy came into power when he proposed a bill to the American Congress that stated that he was to become dictator of America. The bill had nothing to do with religion, abortion, marriage, minority or women’s rights, or anything else remotely controversial. It appeased everyone. Congress all agreed that it was the most beautiful piece of legislation to ever pass through Congress. When the President read it he immediately decided that Dippy was the perfect man to run the country and resigned that same day. He then called Dippy to tell him he was to become dictator. Dippy took the position graciously and was soon conquering the whole world with nuclear weapons and secretly hidden, powerful government devices. Truly Dippy is the greatest ruler to ever live.

[MR. VARNS relaxes but does not go back into his frozen position. HARVEY looks back to the audience and speaks.]

 

HARVEY

Dippy couldn’t even leave a better legacy than that?

[while HARVEY is talking, MR. VARNS realizes that he is speaking and turns to him quickly, confused.]

 

VARNS

What in Dippy’s name is going on over there?!

[HARVEY looks back at MR. VARNS very quickly and in shock. MR. VARNS stands up and walks briskly over to where HARVEY is standing. HARVEY begins to back away from him.]

 

HARVEY

[stammers] I – well you see, I… I was just trying to… well I need to tell the people – It’s like a speech, I just – [HARVEY cuts out from fear]

[MR. VARNS is standing right above HARVEY while he cowers]

 

VARNS

Command 2,683: There shall be no monologuing at any time without direct permission from Dippy himself.

 

HARVEY

But Dippy has been dead for hundreds of years, how am I—

 

VARNS

There will be no more of this non-sense.

[MR. VARNS pulls a colored candy and holds it up to HARVEY’S mouth]

If rules you cannot keep, you will have to go to sleep.

[MR. VARNS grabs HARVEY’S mouth with one hand and shoves the candy in with the other. HARVEY struggles but is soon chewing the candy. Bliss spreads across HARVEY’S face as he slowly slides to the floor with his eyes closed.]

[chanting rhythmically] We love assimilation because it unifies the nation.

Don’t make a friend or it will spell your end.

We do not fall in love. We only care for Dippy above….

[Curtain falls slowly as he is saying this]