The Oppression Of Knowledge In Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury
In the novel, the burning of the old women and all of those before her represent the oppression of knowledge and freedom of speech. The old woman would rather suicide with all of her books, rather than submit to the society’s norm of oppressing knowledge. The fact that she would end her own life for books rather than submit to the government demonstrates the power of books and what they can do for society. Captain Beatty says “these fanatics always try suicide; the pattern’s familiar.” (Bradbury, 36) indicating that many people before her chose the same path that she did. They chose to stand as a symbol of freedom of speech as they will not submit to the government’s norms, and in the process chose their own path of suicide, rather than concede their freedom and knowledge. To burn one of these individuals by force means to burn freedom of speech itself.
Finally, Bradbury shows the power of books by changing Montag’s view on books and their purpose in society, from that of a book burner to that of a book preserver, and why they are burned in the novel. Near the middle of the novel, we find out that Montag had stolen a book from the old woman’s burning house. He later says to Faber, a book cherisher,