Burning Books | Reflection

Books seem to be so innocent at first glance. However amongst the thin pages are the ideas of one other, laying there for the reader to decipher and make their own. Opinions and ideas can be scary and threatening, especially when coming from an opposing force or belief system. The burning of books was introduced particularly because of this discord.

Austin Cline’s article discusses the burning of books during the Second World War and its connection to the Holocaust. In order to contain and eventually obviate the messages of the degenerates within the German nation, the Nazis burned the books which advocated their ideas. These books grew from ones mind and thus makes “Burning books and burning people [connected] because both stem from a desire to eliminate ideas that are a threat to the some group or ideology”.

In the novel Fahrenheit 451 we are presented with a similar situation. The freedom of thought is censored and limited. Books are burned to eliminate any further knowledge of the individual. During the novel the main character, Montag, sympathizes the authors who poured their minds and souls into their works. He even compares the burning of the books to burning the author who wrote each one, similar to what was discussed in Austin Cline’s article.

Knowledge is so uncontrollable, it expands day to day. Both as a whole and between different brains. Fighting it with something as uncontrollable as fire reminds me of fighting a grease fire with water. Ironically book burning has become this moment in history, this source of knowledge that so many have written about and expanded – Heinrich Heine even predicted it!

Maggie Whelan


2 thoughts on “Burning Books | Reflection

  1. I loved your comment that the people have a natural lust for knowledge and, as strong as it is, controlling it is like trying to put of a grease fire with water; close to impossible. And so with this great inference, we can see why once Montag first tastes calming and delicious waters of knowledge, brought on by Clarisse, he is thirsty for more, and he will do anything to have another sip. Thanks for the brilliant connection to this idea!


  2. Interesting that you centered it…I almost felt a little poetry from time to time! (Particularly at the line that ends in “discord.”)

    I agree that knowledge is pretty uncontrollable (humans tend to thirst for it, after all,,,keeps getting us in trouble!) and I like how you hit upon the book burning as a kind of turning point. Hmm…now I’m thinking of science and equal and opposite reactions…

    -Ms. M

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