Fahrenheit 451 is one of my all-time favorite books.
I remember reading Fahrenheit 451 (and other amazing literature) in Ms. Walker’s 10th grade English class. I sat behind ginger curly-haired Mandy, second desk from the front, on the far left, away from the door, by the window.
When I became an English teacher, I was thrilled to teach 10th grade, my favorite literature curriculum. I would read the last section aloud to the class. I ended up emotionally drained, teary-eyed, hoarse. My students applauded my performance.
Fahrenheit 451 Literature Unit Study
Liz didn’t particularly care for this book at first.
Here is a partial reading list for this year.
I introduced the novel with background studies on McCarthyism, science fiction, politics, and socio-economics after WWII. It’s important to understand what audience the novel was written for. And it’s still relevant today!
We related the characters and society in Fahrenheit 451 to our modern society. We identified issues in current events and history. We discussed how events in history could lead society to destruction.
We discussed what’s important to our society and how we can be a light in the darkness. We don’t have a TV and we go screen-free often to remind ourselves to focus on relationships. We periodically clear our schedule to rest and revive our minds and souls.
We compared/contrasted and discussed these characters:
- Clarisse to modern teens.
- Montag to fireman, husbands, adults today.
- Mildred and her friends to modern wives and mothers.
- Beatty as establishment/government/authority/present.
- Faber as protector/mentor/past.
- Granger as revolutionary/future.
We discussed value of life with some current events like abortion, euthanasia, life support, medical ethics.
These conversations led us into discussion about how religion plays a role in the novel and in our lives.
There are allusions to the Bible throughout Fahrenheit 451.
We read Ecclesiastes. Montag tries to memorize this chapter and it’s certainly a great theme for his character.
We skipped over most of the questions and discussions in the Progeny Press study guide. They were getting just ridiculous. I’m all for allusions to the Bible, but some of the ones they asked for were just a stretch. We skipped sections of the guide and completed others.
Faber’s description of Christ and Christianity spotlights all that’s wrong with churchianity.
“Lord, how they’ve changed it in our ‘parlors’ these days. Christ is one of the ‘family’ now. I often wonder if God recognizes His own son the way we’ve dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He’s a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystal and saccharine when he isn’t making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs.” p. 77-78
The denominations and schisms within the American Church confuse truth seekers. I have spent most of my life looking for the Real Church.
Too often, church is disguised as entertainment: rock concerts, fortune tellers, get-rich-quick schemes, dating services, finance classes, social events.
We’re learning church history and reading stories about missionaries. We’re paying attention to current events. We’re frightened about the state of the American church. We’re seeing through history how liberalism and other “isms” have affected so many countries.
We discussed historical and political events that occurred leading up to the 1950s.
There was a worldwide fear of war after WWII that led to McCarthyism, Communism, the Cold War, and the popularity of science fiction novels, shows, and comics.
Our theme the last few months is summarized by the character Faber:
“I’m one of the innocents who could have spoken up and out when no one would listen to the ‘guilty’ but I did not speak and thus became guilty myself.” p.78
This is also discussed during Nazi Germany and during Communist regime and we read many stories about heroes who spoke up during these horrific times. It is good to revisit the book of Esther in the Bible. Since we love comics and sci fi, we’re discussing how they give kids hope in a fallen world. Of course, our ultimate hope is Jesus, but I don’t see anything wrong with these fictions. They offer a great political commentary in a pretty package.
We love learning history through literature. So many voices with different perspectives and ideas.
Lots of great allusions to poets and political literature. Many allusions to the Bible and mythology. Offers great opportunity for literary analysis and research.
One of the reasons we began homeschooling is because I wanted to control my children’s education. I love literature. I wanted to teach my children to love reading. I wanted them to love learning. I saw what schools did to children and I didn’t want that for our family.
“The public itself stopped reading of its own accord.” p. 83
I have a hard time respecting people who don’t like literature or art.
“The good writers [and artists] touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.” p. 79
Of course, we discussed censorship. We discussed also how TV and Internet displace reading literature. I was against owning Kindles and iPads a long time. It is very difficult to have balance with so much technology. I encourage my kids to experience life and to read to expand their minds. Sitting stationary in front of a screen is a last resort.
A list of resources that have similar themes in Fahrenheit 451 (viewer discretion):
Videos and Other Books
- The Book of Eli
- Mad Max
- The Giver and the book quartet by Lois Lowry
- Planet of the Apes
- The Terminator
- The Stand by Stephen King
- 12 Monkeys
- Red Dawn
- Swan Song by Robert McCammon
- Children of Men
We used several different graphic organizers and various notebooking page templates to learn about Fahrenheit 451.
- Venn Diagrams
- Characterization Pages
- Plot Charts
- Theme Information
- Literary Terms
This is how I approach most novels I teach. I look at overall themes and how I can incorporate them into our other studies. I pull in relevant Bible passages, missionary stories, church history, current events to show how the literature stands up throughout generations to teach us wisdom.