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Read all the most important Fahrenheit 451 quotes by Ray Bradbury about books, censorship, technology, Mildred Montag, Clarisse McClelan, society, knowledge, government, and more.

About Fahrenheit 451

Authored by Ray Bradbury in the mid-20th century, Fahrenheit 451 is a powerful critique of a dystopian society where books are outlawed, inspired by Nazi book burnings and the Soviet Union’s governmental control. It’s a culturally significant novel that emphasizes the value and importance of books and intellectual freedom to both the individual and society as a whole, as well as the dangers that technology poses to society and human relationships.

Bradbury’s messages about the dangers of censorship are indeed something that continues to resonate strongly today, as books are being banned in the United States at alarming rates, often for their inclusion of diversity. When literature filled with independent thought and ideas is controlled, so too is the ability to have everything from empathy to personal growth, individuality, creativity, and even freedom.

In fact, Bradbury himself has said, “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”

Fahrenheit 451 has won awards that include the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature in 1954, the Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal, the Prometheus “Hall of Fame” Award in 1984, and the “Retro” Hugo Award in 2004 for the best novel of 1953. It’s also been adapted both to film and stage.

I have now read Fahrenheit 451 three times (twice on audio and once in print) as part of my challenge to read the books referenced on Gilmore Girls and my desire to fight censorship.

If you haven’t read Fahrenheit 451 yet, I personally recommend reading the audiobook edition narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins because he’s such an exceptional narrator as protagonist Guy Montag, who begins to question why firemen like him are tasked with burning books. Fahrenheit 451 is a quick read, but a difficult one, as it presents a science fiction narrative that the reader must think more deeply about in order to fully understand.

These Fahrenheit 451 quotes highlight in brief snippets the most prominent themes and topics examined in the novel. These quotes from Fahrenheit 451 are also offered to provoke thought and inspire dialogue about the depth of this culturally significant text.

Fahrenheit 451 Quotes

Below are the best Fahrenheit 451 quotes about technology, censorship, Mildred, Clarisse, books, society, government control, and more.

Fahrenheit 451 Quotes About Technology

“‘That’s sad [that the mechanical hound doesn’t think anything we don’t want it to think]’, said Montag, quietly, ‘because all we put into it is hunting and finding and killing. What a shame if that’s all it can ever know.'”

“Speed up the film, Montag, quick. Click, Pic, Look, Eye, Now, Flick, Here, There, Swift, Pace, Up, Down, In, Out, Why, How, Who, What, Where, Eh? Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom! Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline! Then, in mid-air, all vanishes!”

“Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?”

“But time to think? If you’re not driving a hundred miles an hour, at a clip where you can’t think of anything else but the danger, then you’re playing some game or sitting in some room where you can’t argue with the four wall televisor. Why? The televisor is ‘real.’ It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It must be, right. It seems so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest, ‘What nonsense!'”

“The average TV commercial of sixty seconds has one hundred and twenty half-second clips in it, or one-third of a second. We bombard people with sensation. That substitutes for thinking.”


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Fahrenheit 451 Quotes About Censorship

“[Firemen] were given a new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior; official censors, judges, and executors.”

“We stand against the small tide of those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought.”

“My uncle says the architects got rid of the front porches because they didn’t look well. But my uncle says that was merely rationalizing it; the real reason, hidden underneath, might be they didn’t want people sitting like that, doing nothing, rocking, talking; that was the wrong kind of social life. People talked too much. And they had time to think.”


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Fahrenheit 451 Quotes About Mildred

“She’s nothing to me; she shouldn’t have had books.”

“She laughed an odd little laugh that went up and up. ‘Funny, how funny, not to remember where or when you met your husband or wife.'”

“No matter when he came in, the walls were always talking to Mildred.”

“Nobody listens any more. I can’t talk to the walls because they’re yelling at me. I can’t talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it’ll make sense. And I want you to teach me to understand what I read.”

“His wife stretched on the bed, uncovered and cold, like a body displayed on the lid of a tomb, her eyes fixed to the ceiling by invisible threads of steel, immovable. And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind. The room was indeed empty.”


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Fahrenheit 451 Quotes About Clarisse

“Her face, turned to him now, was fragile milk crystal with a soft and constant light in it. It was not the hysterical light of electricity but-what? But the strangely comfortable and rare and gently flattering light of the candle.”

“He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself. He recognized this as the true state of affairs. He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back.”

“‘Why is it,’ he said, one time, at the subway entrance, ‘I feel I’ve known you so many years?’ ‘Because I like you,’ she said, ‘and I don’t want anything from you.'”

“She didn’t want to know how a thing was done, but why. That can be embarrassing.”

“The autumn leaves blew over the moonlit pavement in such a way as to make the girl who was moving there seem fixed to a sliding walk, letting the motion of the wind and the leaves carry her forward.”

“But Clarisse’s favorite subject wasn’t herself. It was everyone else, and me. She was the first person in a good many years I’ve really liked. She was the first person I can remember who looked straight at me as if I counted.”


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Fahrenheit 451 Quotes About Books and Books Being Banned

The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine percent of them is in a book.

“There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”

“So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.”

“We’ll pass the books on to our children, by word of mouth, and let our children wait, in turn, on the other people. A lot will be lost that way, of course. But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up under them. It can’t last.”

“Remember, the firemen are rarely necessary. The public itself stopped reading of its own accord.”

“Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book.”

“We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren’t happy. Something’s missing. I looked around. The only thing I positively knew was gone was the books I’d burned in ten or twelve years. So I thought books might help.”

“More cartoons in books. More pictures. The mind drinks less and less.”

“The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine percent of them is in a book.”

“You can’t ever have my books.”

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”

“A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon.”

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

“Last night I thought about all the kerosene I’ve used in the past ten years. And I thought about books. And for the first time I realized that a man was behind each one of the books. A man had to think them up. A man had to take a long time to put them down on paper. […] It took some man a lifetime maybe to put some of his thoughts down, looking around at the world and life, and then I come along in two minutes and boom! It’s all over.”


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Fahrenheit 451 Quotes About Society

“With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.”

“Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge.”

“No one has time any more for anyone else.”

“There are too many of us, he thought. There are billions of us and that’s too many. Nobody knows anyone. Strangers come and violate you. Strangers come and cut your heart out. Strangers come and take your blood. Good God, who were those men? I never saw them before in my life!”


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Fahrenheit 451 Quotes About Knowledge

“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.”

“She didn’t want to know how a thing was done, but why. That can be embarrassing. You ask Why to a lot of things and you wind up very unhappy indeed, if you keep at it. The poor girl’s better off dead.”

“They say you retain knowledge even when you’re sleeping, if someone whispers in your ear.”

“If you read fast and read all, maybe some of the sand will stay in the sieve.”

“All we want to do is keep the knowledge we think we will need, intact and safe. We’re not out to incite or anger anyone yet. For if we are destroyed, the knowledge is dead, perhaps for good.”


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Fahrenheit 451 Quotes About Government Control

“If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood. If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none.”

“We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.”

“But remember that the Captain belongs to the most dangerous enemy to truth and freedom, the solid unmoving cattle of the majority. Oh, God, the terrible tyranny of the majority.”


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More Important Quotes from Fahrenheit 451

“It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.”

Read More: Best Opening Lines in Literature

“Happiness is important. Fun is everything. And yet I kept sitting there saying to myself, I’m not happy, I’m not happy. I am.”

“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”

“That’s the good part of dying; when you’ve nothing to lose, you run any risk you want.”

“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.”

“And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for all the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the backyard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them just the way he did. He was individual.”

“To everything there is a season. Yes. A time to break down, and a time to build up. Yes. A time to keep silence and a time to speak. Yes, all that.”

“I don’t talk things, sir. I talk the meaning of things.”

“I’m antisocial, they say. I don’t mix. It’s so strange. I’m very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn’t it?”

“Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were heading for shore.”

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.”

“He stood breathing, and the more he breathed the land in, the more he was filled up with all the details of the land. He was not empty. There was more than enough here to fill him. There would always be more than enough.”

“The sun burnt every day. It burnt time.”

“That’s the wonderful thing about man; he never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again, because he knows very well it is important and WORTH the doing.”

“Stand at the top of a cliff and jump off and build your wings on the way down.”

“This was all he wanted now. Some signs that the immense world would accept him and give him the long time he needed to think all the things that must be thought.”

“‘Stuff your eyes with wonder,’ he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic that any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal.'”


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Conclusion

Now you know the best Fahrenheit 451 quotes about technology, censorship, Mildred, Clarisse, books, society, government control, and more. In reading these Fahrenheit 451 quotes, we have not just paid homage to Ray Brandbury’s literary genius, but we also recommit ourselves to freedom from censorship.

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