From arguably one of the greatest dystopian novels ever written, these timeless Fahrenheit 451 quotes will inspire you to think differently.
The classic novel Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, is a staple of American high school reading lists.
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According to the American Library Association, over 11,000 books have been challenged or banned in the US since 1982.
This statistic highlights the ongoing issue of censorship in the US and the importance of protecting the freedom to read.
Set in a dystopian future where technology rules society and intellectualism is curbed, books are illegal and professional “firemen” burn any books they find.
The protagonist, Guy Montag, begins to rebel against this practice as he relearns the meaning of happiness and decides to fight censorship by committing his life to preserve knowledge.
Why is Fahrenheit 451 considered such an important and timeless novel?
Fahrenheit 451 is a classic piece centering on themes of the purpose of life, the role of intellectualism, the decadence of society, the danger of censorship, and the power of books.
According to Bradbury, he wrote the book because of his concerns about the threat of book burning in the United States.
He was inspired by the Nazi book burnings and the ideological repression in the Soviet Union.
Fahrenheit 451 was published in 1953 by Ballantine Books.
It is often regarded as one of Bradbury’s best works and has won several awards including, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, the Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal, the Prometheus “Hall of Fame” Award in 1984 and a “Retro” Hugo Award in 2004.
The collection of Fahrenheit 451 quotes below is drawn from the novel, but also from other sources that expand on the novel’s central themes.
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Memorable Fahrenheit 451 Quotes
A study published in the Journal of Social Psychology found that individuals who read dystopian fiction are more likely to engage in political action and to have increased political efficacy.
This statistic suggests that reading dystopian literature, like Fahrenheit 451, can motivate readers to take action and become more politically engaged.
1. “‘Stuff your eyes with wonder,’ he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world.’” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
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2. “A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
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3. “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
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4. “The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
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5. “It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
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6. “Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
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7. “There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
8. “‘That’s the good part of dying; when you’ve nothing to lose, you run any risk you want.’” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
9. “I don’t talk things, sir. I talk the meaning of things.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 quotes that will make you think
In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 46% of Americans said they believed the government should have the power to censor news stories.
This statistic highlights the concerning lack of support for freedom of the press in the US.
10. “It was a pleasure to burn.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
11. “Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were heading for shore.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
12. “What is there about fire that’s so lovely? No matter what age we are, what draws us to it?” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
13. “Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
14. “He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself. He recognized this as the true state of affairs.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
15. “We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered?” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
16. “I’ll hold onto the world tight someday. I’ve got one finger on it now; that’s a beginning.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
17. “And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for all the things he did.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 Quotes About Society and Anti-Intellectualism
According to a report by Freedom House, internet freedom has been on the decline worldwide for the past decade, with governments increasingly using censorship and surveillance to control the flow of information online.
This statistic underscores the need to continue discussing the themes and ideas present in Fahrenheit 451 and other works that address the dangers of censorship and government control of information.
18. “Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
19. “Those who don’t build must burn.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
20. “‘But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up under then. It can’t last.’” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
21. “It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
22. “It’s as old as history and juvenile delinquents.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
23. “Remember, the firemen are rarely necessary. The public itself stopped reading of its own accord.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
24. “You read and I look around, but there isn’t anybody!” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
25. “Forget them. Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
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How does Fahrenheit 451 apply in the era of the Internet?
Books can be burned to censor the ideas within, but that may not be true for the ideas expressed on websites and social media.
Published in 1953, Fahrenheit 451 could not have predicted the Internet.
Today it would be impossible to completely erase anyone’s ideology.
However, there is a dangerous trend of labeling some topics as being unacceptable.
This stands in contrast to the world of Fahrenheit 451, where ideas are simply erased by burning books.
Instead of explaining why they may be wrong, critics today force topics like racism and sexism to be discussed in places where there might not be dissenting voices.
This allows truly harmful beliefs to fester where exposure to the light of public discourse could heal them.
It is clear that we still have much to keep in mind from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
What’s your biggest takeaway from these Fahrenheit 451 quotes and lines?
Do you have any other favorite quotes to add?
Let us know in the comment section below.