In the novel Fahrenheit 451, book burning was an issue since it destroyed the knowledge stored within the pages. This practice led to ignorance among the citizens. The ignorance present within the dystopian society is revealed through this quote, “It was a pleasure to burn” (Bradbury 3). The general public in the novel did not realize what burning books meant since they didn’t know the knowledge that was stored within the pages. In the 1950’s, in which the book was set, knowledge was preserved mainly in written and oral tradition. Information that was preserved orally allowed for more fluctuation in the information. As information was orally passed down through generations the information got further away from the original as a result of different perspectives altering the information and the loss of information from generation to generation. Writings clearly provided to be more exact and reliable information. Therefore, in the novel, eliminating the written tradition destroyed the source of knowledge contained within the writings and left only oral tradition to supply all the information. Clearly this was a problem and the elimination of writings and books resulted in the elimination of wisdom and knowledge.
Book burning would evidently have a different effect on our world compared to the world Montag lives in, as a result of the technology present today. In our present society, where Google is at our fingertips and e-books are becoming increasingly popular the role and importance of hard copy books is reduced. This quote reveals, that the wisdom within the books is the important part, “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. You don’t stay for nothing.” (Bradbury 51). The knowledge held within books still holds its value today. However, the medium of the printed book is not as precious since other mediums present the knowledge once found solely in books. Thus, if books were burned today the effect would be more symbolic. It is different since the knowledge they contain is backed up and stored within other mediums.
The role of physical books in our society today is dying. Google is replacing the large encyclopedias and dictionaries to fit on a small compact computer screen. Devises such as Kindles store complete libraries on hand-sized screens as opposed to a full building. Technology is making the role of physical books obsolete! Present technology compacts the space of the knowledge stored in books and makes it easier to access and own. E-books are cheaper and more compact than paper copybooks. “The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through the radios and televisors” (Bradbury 82), this demonstrates the fact that the information in books is special for the wisdom itself as opposed to its location on the written page. This quote reveals that different mediums can effectively provide us with the same wisdom found in books. Thus, in our society where technology is providing this function, the physical book is just another medium that is more expensive, not as easy to readily access and requires more space. I believe book burning in our present society would not matter as much as it did in the novel since the knowledge would not die like it did in the book.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine Books, 1953. Print.