'Fahrenheit 451': The Novel That Changed My Life

Ray Bradbury's 'Farenheit 451' (Lina Blanco/KQED)

Fahrenheit 451 showed me the difference between being alive and merely existing.

Throughout the book, the characters can be divided into those who are truly living and those who are emotionally dead. Montag, the protagonist, essentially wakes up from a 30-year mental slumber to realize that the society he lives in is figuratively dead and only a few people who know how to think, communicate and create are truly living.

Among these few are Clarisse, Faber and Granger. This book made me see that so many people leave emptiness as their legacies and it is up to us to create worth and meaning in our lives and pass those meanings onto others before we die.

As a high school English teacher, it influenced me to create an assignment in which students write and perform their own eulogies, projected far into the future, in which they describe the lives they hope to have lived. This has helped my students to map a path towards leading happy and meaningful lives.

I have done this assignment for several years now so, quite literally, this book has indirectly influenced hundreds of teenagers to find their best selves and work towards being them.

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