Can you imagine that one day you kick your mother’s butt hard but do not receive any rebuke, instead, she kicks you back? What would you say if citizens admit that they elect president Obama for his handsome face, strong stature or smooth black skin? What would you think a new study reported that there was no any love between married couples and that they barely communicate? All of these are in Bradbury’s description of Fahrenheit 451 society. Yet, this fiction novel actually is written base on history. If we look through the history in late 1950s, Nazis in Germany burned books in public which are described prominently in Fahrenheit 451 were true firemen. This era also saw the rise of television ownership and the expansion of television in the U.S., which foreshadows the TV parlors that Bradbury imagines in F451 society. Throughout the novel, Bradbury portrays mass media, strict censorship and the endless pursuit of happiness as a veil that prevent people in Fahrenheit 451 from developing close, meaningful connections with each other.
Strict censorship also has a negative impact on people’s social relationships. In F451 society, everyone strived to be the same to achieve happiness, and minorities, therefore, become their target to destroy. “The word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class, who was exceptionally ‘bright,’ did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn’t it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours” (58). Absolutely, people don’t want to feel inferior to those who have read more than they have. And, who knows who might be the target to the well-read man? So people choose to hurt others in order to protect themselves. For instance, Mrs. Blake reports her neighbor, an old woman who commits suicide to prevent being separated from her books, to firemen for suspicion that she might has books in attic. Mildred and his friends also report Montag due to illegal books hider in his backyard. To avoid losing everything, Mildred chooses to leave her husband, and even leaves home with a suitcase without saying goodbye. The immediacy of pleasure in this bookless society eliminates thought and, with it, the trust between each other.
Last but not the least, Fahrenheit 451 society not only has abandoned books in favor of hollow frenetic entertainment and instant gratification, but it also pursues happiness through violence. Since “school is shortened, discipline relaxes, philosophies, histories, languages and any other difficult courses are dropped” to make children much happier, students cannot do anything after school. “They only can go to bed or head for a Fun Park to bully people around, break windowpanes in the Window Smasher place or wreck cars in the Car Wrecker place with the big steel ball. Or go out in the cars and race on the streets” (30). As Beatty says, unless you cross the line to go against government, there are no consequences and no responsibilities, so students are permuted to do whatever they want to release their frustration in Fahrenheit 451 society. People are quietly allowed to fight each other in order to release pressure. Funerals are eliminated because they are a source of unhappiness; death is forgotten as soon as it occurs, and bodies are “unceremoniously incinerated”. Furthermore, in this society, any reading material is considered as morbid as a corpse, because they contain dead thoughts by dead authors, which might confuse people and make them unhappy. In order to ensure equality and happiness of citizens, government destroys knowledge and promotes ignorance which also leads to people’s empty lives and poor relationship.
All in all, Fahrenheit 451 society becomes indifferent and shallow due to the popularity of mass media, government’s pressure and oppressive “happiness”. Mindless entertainments deprive people of their leisure time to think deeply. Ignorance then exacerbates the problem that people in F451 are kept dark by government and have little real contact or deep communication with each other. Even worse, distrust separates people into two groups: F451 citizens and the rebels. Books and critical thinking, the minorities encouraged, become a direct threat to equality. Violence and pleasure then replace knowledge in people’s lives. By making widespread violent phenomenon and ignorance that emerges from culture itself, Bradbury express a concern in real world that the power of mess media and censorship will one day destroy people’s close relationship and substitutes for thinking.