Teaching Fahrenheit 451
Once you get over the fact that e-readers and iPhones have made the premise of Fahrenheit 451 irrelevant, you’ll be burning down the classroom.
Most students enjoy the novel. You may need to explain the figurative language to help students comprehend the novel’s theme. Regardless of level, all students should be able to give a Fahrenheit 451 summary without much difficulty. A Fahrenheit 451 analysis, however, probably depends on your teaching expertise. Effective activities include irony charts, suspense graphic organizers, and a chart detailing the predictions from the novel that have come true.
The book’s message must be shared. In a society that overly depends on outward stimulation as opposed to intelligent thought, a book like this should be taught in all high schools.
Fahrenheit 451 Lesson Plan
Students will bring up the whole, “I’d like to see these fools burn my Kindle (no pun intended)!” anachronistic issue. Admit that Bradbury’s inability to foresee the inevitable elimination of traditional books makes the novel less relevant then spring this assignment on them.
Instruct students to make a two-column chart. On the left-side of the chart, readers should write down a Bradbury prediction. On the right side of the chart, readers will write how that prediction has come true. Have them list 5-10 predictions.
Fahrenheit 451 Lesson Example
1) Mildred and her friends interact with TV shows.
2) There are machines where people go to get money 24 hours a day.
Prediction Coming True
1) Internet, iPhones, Twitter, Facebook, and other media make interacting with TV shows common.
ELA Common Core Standards Covered
Reading Fahrenheit 451 will help you cover the following ELA common core standards for reading and writing. This is for your administrator, not your students. Kids need student-friendly worded objectives.
- RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
- RL.9-10.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
- RL.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone)
- RL.9-10.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
- W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
- L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
- SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
Fahrenheit 451 Summary
Guy Montag, while walking home from work after a long day, meets Clarisse, a vivacious girl who opens his eyes to the futility of his life and of his society. Guy returns home to his wife who has attempted suicide one more time. Guy rebels, but in a society that frowns on individuals, undergoes constant external stimulation, and prohibits the reading of books, he may be in over his head. Making his change of heart even more difficult is Montag’s profession. He’s a fireman whose job it is to find books…and burn them.
Fahrenheit 451 Analysis
Legendary Science Fiction writer Ray Bradbury has written hundreds of novels, plays, and short stories including The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, The Illustrated Man and, perhaps his most popular, Fahrenheit 451. A Fahrenheit 451 analysis should include the following:
- Allusion: Because the central activity of the novel’s protagonist is to find books and burn them, along with the house that contains them, there are numerous literary allusions.
- Irony: Firemen start fires. Happy people try to kill themselves. Schools promote reckless behavior, movie watching, and sports playing. People are arrested for going on walks.
- Suspense: Bradbury creates suspense through pacing, foreshadowing, and dangerous action.
- Symbolism: The novel teems with symbolism.
- Figurative Language: Metaphors, similes, personification, synechdoche, and hyperbole allows the novel to be interpreted on many levels.
- Imagery: Burning houses, ghostlike visitors, desperate rebels, and many more haunting images grace the novel’s pages.
- Conflict: The novel details one man’s inner conflict and his conflict with society.
Bradbury’s novel has stood the test of time. Written shortly after World War II, Bradbury’s dystopia looks shockingly similar to modern society. The following topics will make your class discussions productive:
- Elements of Science Fiction: Startling predictions include a society with TV screens the size of walls; individuals who sit around all day and watch TV; people who never read; the encouragement of recklessness and an overexaggeration of the importance of sports, ATMs, and many more.
- The Influcence of the Media: Bradbury’s fictional society spends its time being visually stimulated. The media controls individual thought.
- Peer Pressure: Teenagers understand peer influence more than adults. The pressure of conformity pervades the novel.
- The Importance of Books: The society loses its ability to think because it no longer reads.
Fahrenheit 451 Study Questions
These Fahrenheit 451 questions will help you to prepare for a class discussion or quiz on the book. They’ll test your understanding of the work and get you thinking about the important ideas behind it.
1. Other than censorship what problems exist in the dystopic society envisioned by Bradbury?
Violent youth, fast cars, invasive media, intolerant minority and special interest groups, the disintegration of familial ties, the ostracism of anyone who is unusual, and the ineffectiveness of government schools all play a role in the disintegration of Bradbury’s dystopic society.
2. To what extent have the Fahrenheit 451 predictions come true?
Violent crime among youth has increased steadily over the past 20 years. People watch TV on their phone. Political correctness pervades art, media, and politics. American schools have fallen behind their counterparts. Students, for example, often read study guides instead of reading the actual novel.
3. What do you make of Beatty’s ability to quote literature and his desire to destroy books?
It is apparent that Beatty has not only read literature but has studied it closely as evidenced by his ability to quote it. Because literature has no definite answer, often contradicts itself, and is fluid in meaning, Beatty despises it. He wants to be in control, but he cannot control the meaning of literature and the study of ideas.
4. What Fahrenheit 451 predictions not mentioned above have come true?
ATMs, unheard of in 1950 when Fahrenheit 451 was originally published, large screen TVs, interactive media (Internet, for example), the proliferation of Caesarian sections, abortion on demand, music and TVs on subways, trains, the dentist office, and grocery stores, the watering down of religion, and an “inefficient, top heavy, tax-mad government” (61) are prevalent today.
5. Faber defines the value of books. What is it and does it apply only to books?
Books have quality, pores, features, texture, depth, telling detail, fresh detail. Good writers touch life. Faber comments that society needs quality, be it books, good TV programs, plays, or thoughtful music, Society needs time to digest the meaning of things and the freedom to act on it.
6. Why do Faber and Montag feel they must change the way things are?
Nobody’s happy. Suicides abound. They’re always at war.
The movie isn’t very good. There is, however, some outstanding unintentional comedy. Here’s part 1 for your enjoyment.
Fahrenheit 451 Study Guide
Everything your teacher wants you to know about Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury can be accessed by the following links.
- Summary of Fahrenheit 451
- Important Quotes from Fahrenheit 451
- Themes and Symbols from Fahrenheit 451
- Characters in Fahrenheit 451
- Teacher’s Guide to Fahrenheit 451 with Study Questions and Analysis