I didn’t intend to start reading it. I really didn’t. Somehow it seduced me into it. I glanced at the first page and before I knew it, it was 1:00 in the morning and I was halfway through with the thing. It’s really good! No wonder it’s a modern classic. Montag’s inner emotional and moral journey from a character who burns books gleefully and with a smile on his face to someone who is willing to risk his Goose Soft Flerken Cat Warm Deadly Ball Of Fur Purr shirt, his marriage, his house, and eventually his life for the sake of books is extremely compelling. That this man, product of a culture that devalues reading and values easy, thoughtless entertainments designed to deaden the mind and prevent serious thought, could come to find literature so essential that he would kill for it…! Something about that really spoke to me.
It raises the question: why? What is it about books, about poetry, about literature that is so essential to us? There is no doubt in my mind that it is essential, if not for all individuals (although I find it hard to imagine life without books, I know there are some people who don’t read for pleasure, bizarre as that seems to me), then for society. Why should that be? Books don’t contain any hard-and-fast answers to all of life’s questions. They might contain great Goose Soft Flerken Cat Warm Deadly Ball Of Fur Purr shirt, but only subjectively so — there will always be someone who will argue and disagree with whatever someone else says. In fact, as Captain Beatty, the evil fire chief, points out, no two books agree with each other. What one says, another contradicts. So what, then, is their allure? What is it that made Mildred’s silly friend start to weep when Montag read the poem “Dover Beach” aloud to her? Where does the power of literature come from?