Fahrenheit 451

American Paradigms in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 invokes two paradigms of America: the paradigm of America in the 1950s, and the Puritan paradigm of America. This paper will discuss the way these paradigms manifest themselves in the text, the relation between them, and the way the author uses them to postulate his conceptualization of America's history and future.

The paradigm of America in the 1950s manifests itself predominantly in six different aspects of the novel. First, the book burning in the novel's dystopian America comments on the American public's perception of book burning in the 1950s. In the aftermath of the Nazi bonfires that consumed numerous books, and the anti-Semitic burnings of Jewish books in Communist Russia, book burning became the emblem of tyranny in the Western world. The majority of the American public at the time conceptualized the book burner as the evil "other" - the Nazi or the Communist – and accordingly perceived America as the champion of freedom, which struggles incessantly against book burners and what they stand for (Faragher, 809). This notion of Americanness as the opposing force to book burning is destabilized in the novel by the nearly unanimous approbation of book burning by both...

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