It’s a shame I’ve waited so long to read this powerful novel. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, is one of those books that you see listed on the must read lists. And for some reason I ignored it. I finally decided that I needed to read it as several of my students had read it and recommended it to me. Plus, I’ve been thinking about teaching it during my Post-WWII unit. Excuses aside, I’m glad I finally cracked the cover.
The hard thing about Fahrenheit is that it starts in media res. And there’s no resolution. It’s quite the Postmodern experience. Especially for someone who teaches students about the parts of a short story, it’s nice to see someone who is playing with genre because it’s something new and I have to work a little to get acclimated to the style. But it’s also something that I didn’t like. The plot starts and just picks up pace right to the end. It feels like running a race. Except you never reach the finish line. You just stop. And there’s only a vague vision of the finish. But the race that we did run was pretty awesome.
It just happened that I was reading Fahrenheit while I was teaching Thoreau’s Walden (just the chapters, “Economy,” “Where I lived, What I lived for,” and “Reading.” And Fahrenheit mentions Thoreau and his expostulations on reading. Particularly, the point that it’s important to read for the sake of the questions that authors ask and that make we readers question our thoughts and beliefs on things. And for that reason I’m certain I want to teach this work to my students. To show them that there’s an echo in literature in which no author is an island. But also because, as a teacher, it’s better to let the book do the teaching.