Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wow! This is intense!

I, too, smiled while reading the first four chapters. But it has become so intense. I don't remember what this is called, a parody, metaphor, allegory? In the beginning, I just enjoyed it. I particularly enjoyed the brief moments of humor, using pigeons to spread the news (I guess that isn't really that funny), Napoleon peeing on the plans for the windmill, the attitude and actions of the cat, the tune of "Beasts of England, "...something between Clementine and La Cucaracha." p. 9.

Boxer is my champion. He has a big heart. He is contributing all he has. The most clever, conniving and powerful acts of Napoleon is taking the puppies and training them to do his bidding. I finished reading Chapter 7. They are all trapped!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Love this Book

I have such a smile on my face when I read this book - it is just so good. In my memory I thought of this book as being about the corruption of power. But, the pigs are bad from the very start - it wasn't after time like I thought. As soon as they got the first pail of milk they started taking advantage of the other animals. It was quite the slippery slope. That is when the other pigs should have spoken up - instead of tacitly agreeing to keep the milk for themselves or to not inquire deeper as to where the milk went.

I also find it interesting that the whole premise for the animal rebellion was flawed. Major says man is the only enemy the animals have and if you remove man, the cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever. Is Orwell pointing to the grass is always greener syndrome or maybe that we chase after too simplistic of solutions to our problems? Major also says no animal escapes the cruel knife at the end. But, Major in fact does. He dies a natural death and Jones actually buries him.

There also seems to be a frog in boiling waters vs. a frog in slowly heating water thing going on. There are lots of little signs and incidents, but the animals keep ignoring things and not probing into things, and those little things turn into bigger and bigger things until it's a too big of a problem to solve. And they wouldn't know how to approach it anyway, because they are so accustomed to doing nothing. It's easier to believe that everything is okay and/or that nothing can be done vs. trying to put your finger on the problem and implement a solution.

Boxer seems to be the most flawed in this area. Every time he is right on the cusp of figuring things out, he just tells himself Napoleon must be right and that he should work harder. His work is what is allowing Napoleon to keep control of things and keep the farm going. Also, Boxer is the one that would have the physical strength to outpower Napoleon. But he isn't rising to his full potential. Because he seems to have the ability to realize things are wrong, but is ignoring it, I feel Orwell is implying he is an accomplice to Napoleon, perhaps an unwilling one, but still an accomplice. So for Orwell, you can be a good person, as Boxer certainly is, but that is not enough when you have the power to stop evil around you and don't do so.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

George Orwell

- Orwell was born in India and was sent to private school in England.

- Orwell never joined a political party.

- "The great enemy of clear language is insincerity."

- "What I have most wanted to do . . . is to make political writing into an art."

- "Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness."


All I want to do now is just take a good look at myself in the mirror.

Montag Likeable? Why did no one memorize a novel?

Well at least Montag made it out before the city was destroyed. But I, for one, do not believe Montag has the whole book of Ecclesiastes memorzied. My problem with Montag is that he seems a little dumb or out of it or something. He's not very good at reading people and he doesn't seem to be very good at putting thoughts together. But maybe that's kind of the point. He was a product of his society/government and was accustomed to not thinking, not observing, not understanding or trying to understand anything around him. I think Bradbury does a good job of not making Montag too much of a hero-genius, but on the other hand it makes him not as likeable.

The other thing I like about Montag not really seeming to get stuff, is that Bradbury's message is that books aren't just for professors. They are for everyone to the degree people can draw from it what they can. The important thing isn't their level of intelligence or understanding, the important thing is to try and learn and understand new things. That is what gives books their power and benefit.

I was a little disappointed that Bradbury only had the book people know nonfiction stuff. Good novels are some of the most important writing - it helps you understand and think about people/society.

I like that Montag finally remembers where he met Mildred. I think it shows he is starting to piece things together and connect his new thoughts with his former stale life. Or maybe it just shows he is now able to think period. Plus I just like Chicago.

And I like the message of Granger - all they are is a bunch of people living out on the country, who have memorized some books. They know they are not a threat to the government and the government knows that too. All they can do is wait for people to put away their radios and tvs and to want to engage in life again. That desire of the people is what will be a danger to the government. And when the people have that desire, the book people will be ready.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I just finished the book today and cannot wait to post or I will forget everything I am feeling. The book sure ended in a hurry. It all went so fast I am sure I missed something. All I remember is Montag thinking a lot of things and the city being burned to dust. How could there even be any survivors in the city? It sounded like the whole place burned in seconds. The jets were halfway around the world before the bombs they dropped even went off. And what I would like to know is who dropped the darn bombs? Bradbury mentions the war a few times but he doesn't explain it very well. I guess it doesn't really matter anyway. The point is not who dropped the bomb, the point is that it happened without anyone in the city knowing that there were people in the world who were unhappy and wanted to kill them. Poor Mildred my backside! But poor Montag, he mourns her even though he thought he wouldn't. I like that Granger tells Montag that they are no better than anybody else. Even though they have knowledge and thought, they are going to be patient and kind to the rest of the world and try to share their knowledge. If they went in like a bunch of know-it-alls, no one would listen to them anyway.

Oh yes, I remember now. Montag kills Beatty. That was a jaw dropper. It doesn't matter if Beatty was asking for it or not, I'm not sure Montag should have set him on fire. Being chased by "the Hound" was scary. And it was disgusting how they woke everyone up to watch (REALITY TV ANYONE!) and even more disgusting how they sacrificed an innocent man to save face.

In my book were two after words written by Bradbury. Boy does he have some strong opinions! He mentions Mormons in the book and again in the after word. I don't think he likes Mormons very much. But I enjoyed reading about the mail he got from fans telling how he should have written the book or how is should be changed. And the ways that the schools changed what he wrote so the students wouldn't read anything offensive. And he just told them all to go to hell basically. Good for him. They obviously did not catch the meaning of the book very well. Good story. I enjoyed reading it and it helped me think about a lot of things. Good job Shyla!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ray Bradbury-Passionate, Driven, Frantic!!

I am reading an anniversary edition of the book with two introductions and a foreward written by Bradbury. Sorry, but the cynic in me will not accept the fact that Bradbury couldn't afford college. That he wrote the book renting a typewriter in the library basement of UCLA tells me he wasn't real resourceful. By this time he had several editors and had more than several published works and was soon to receive an offer from John Huston inviting Bradbury to Ireland to write a screenplay of Moby Dick. Roving the stacks in the library is where his ideas were born and "fed". And just in case someone doesn't think he is "legit": "Years later, during a lecture at a university, the president of the college, hearing of my total immersion in literature, presented me with a cap, cloak, and diploma and officially "graduated" me from the library". (p. 17) I hate to ask this, but did he ever graduate from a university? Not that it matters much when you consider the "body of his work". (These last few sentences were thrown in after I had written my comment so they may not exactly fit but I can't go back and make them fit and still include them so I am just dropping them in here. )
If I spent my time, hours on end, days even, "in the stacks" I would either get an idea or get hungry. This is a personal observation, but I think it is clear to see that Bradbury ran to his rented typewriter and became famous. I, on the other hand, ran to McDonalds and became fat. However, this is not about me. But that's not true either. Every posting and comment thereto alluded to how one of us is personally touched by the ideas presented in this book. Bradbury nailed it!! Stimulus is supposed to make us think. Stimulus like the print media, news, advertisements, television, music, movies, video games, magazine articles, stories, novels, books, classics. So one of the themes in this book is to wake us up so we realize that media isn't supposed to form our ideas but to make us think. Then we take our values and personal experiences and come up with our own conclusions and life styles. These conclusions do not wholly define us, but it defines certain parts of the life we live. My ideas about what is important or what I think or my opinions on some things have changed over the years. Isn't that natural and isn't it welcoming? Getting back to Bradbury, I think he exposed himself to things that gave him ideas and then learned to run with "a whim" and then frantically write about it. That's why in so many short stories, he reacted to a personal incident, like "The Pedestrian" the short story he wrote about a cop challenging him to the idea of taking a walk with a friend late at night. He then fantasized about the incident and made a terrific story about it. So I am beginning to ramble but to me this book is about Ray Bradbury-his style and censoring books. This book was written during the McCarthy period, in the basement of a university library, in the early sixties. Mildred and her lifestyle, enveloping television screens, music constantly bugged into our hears, (I won't even get into emails and text messaging) the fact that the firemen ignite fires not smoother them, the Mechanical Hound or "Big Brother", webcams, instant news reporting about wars and disasters. There is no need to feel anymore, to think, to react, to love, to miss the very presence of someone or something, memories. You guys, we are there!!

Have a good day!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Diversity Preferred Over Conformity

There are two parts to the horror of the society depicted here. The first is an oppressive government. But the other part, that the fire captain explains, is the individual's indifference to others and submission to pressure to conform - as well as the willingness to submit themselves wholly to artificial stimulus (the walls of tv and so on) and pleasure-seeking (as Karen mentions) to the degree that their pleasure-seeking overrides all sense of responsibility and thoughts of others.

I like that the problem here isn't as simple as burning books. The real problem Bradbury is discussing is a society that allowed books to burn. Part of the problem seems to be pressure to conform. The neighbor girl was different and considered anti-social. It was unpopular to think, to question, to want to learn, to not like certain popular activities, and society's pressure to conform did as much to enforce the government's strict regime as the government did. Diversity is not only good, it keeps society from turning into mob of conformity that allows itself to be controlled by a ruling class without ever giving any thought to what they or their government is doing.

Lot's to think about

Wow, talk about getting thrown into a story! It starts really fast and it doesn't slow down. Like Tecia I had to go back and reread some things too. Ray Bradbury moves so fast that it is hard to catch everything. It seemed to me that the author doesn't like Americans very much. However, seeing that he is an American I am now guessing that he is just disgusted with the culture. I was on his official website (to make sure he really is American) and he has some very final opinions. It was actually refreshing. There was a spot on there that said they do not write papers or sell other peoples papers. He said to read the book yourself and write your own paper. I loved it!

Now, to the book. I am amazed at how quickly Montag goes from thinking "it was a pleasure to burn" (first line of the book) to "sitting there saying to myself, I'm not happy, I'm not happy"(top of page 65). It made me think, what changed? What made him realize he was just going through the motions and that he was not really happy? Then the answer came to me-Clarisse McClellan. As young as she is (or was) she comes along and helps him see the light. It was very brave of her to befriend a fireman. Kinda dangerous. Luckily she had good judgement. It appears she was well educated and cultured. I liked how she just went to the psychiatrist just to please everyone. I liked how she said what she thought and how she was able to make Montag think. I like how Clarisse made Montag see the world how it really was, dead and scripted. No one thinks, the thinking is done for them. The part where Montag is on the train trying to read and the Denham's Dentifrice on the radio kept distracting him. That is so true in our world! We are constantly bombarded by advertisements, pictures, and noise! No wonder we can lose track of what is important. The world keeps screaming in our ears and telling us what is important. I also found it interesting that Montag was ready to see the reality but Milldred wasn't. She was far from being unhappy. It shows that we are not all at the same place at the same time. That helps me not to judge people by what I know or understand but to realize that everyone is at a difference place. Faber is wonderful. I love how he explains to Montag that the books will not change everything like he thinks. "The whole skeleton needs melting and reshaping." (87)
The person who really scars me is Captain Beatty. He sure seems to know quite a lot of quotes from many different sources. Interesting, isn't it? And he has all the answers? That is just scary. He uses many different logics and angles to confuse Montag when he is "explaining" things to him. He does explain the gist of it, that in order to help everyone feel happy and feel like a winner, they have to take away the ability to read and think. Then no one feels bad. Wow, that is not a good foundation to build a society upon. And lastly, I liked the way the author ended the second part of the book. Stopping right in front of Montag's house! I thought Beatty was a little too happy! The suspense is killing me!

Friday, February 12, 2010


I have stopped reading this book at night, and I am so afraid of the hound I may never sleep with my window open again.

This book really has me thinking.

I can't help but make comparisons between the story in the book and today. Here are a few examples.

I love books, but I also love television. The other day I was watching a show and Matti came in and started talking to me about her day and I was irritated with her. (only for a second), but it really scared me that I might be detaching from what is really important.

How many people do I know with "shells" in their ears day and night. ( I thought that part was prophetic)

The need for constant entertainment, and fun, to always increase risk ( the high speed of cars)

Throwing kids in front of the tv to keep them out our hair.

kids killing kids etc.

I look forward to finishing the story.

my thoughts

Well, I thought it was kinda slow at first. I think this was just my attitude, since I had to stop reading "A Tale of Two Cities", not that I understand yet what is going on in that book either. Anyway, I marked some passages with sticky notes and now can't remember why to all of them. Hard to admit, but I think Mom does that. I think Bradbury over describes things sometimes, it seem so dramatic to me And while I think this passage is over dramatized, I kinda like it: top of pg. 24 "he felt his body divide itself into a hotness and a coldness, a softness and a hardness, a trembling and a not trembling, the 2 halves grinding one upon the other.

I think it's weird Montag and his wife can't remember when they met and I can't figure out what that means, some conspiracy? Maybe I missed something? I feel like many things aren't explained. Like the 3 walls with her "family", Bradbury just jumped into that, and the mechanical dog picking up his scent? Who programed the dog to do that and why? I had to go back and reread a lot to try and figure out what was happening. Maybe that's because I was reading at night or was distracted, but I found it obnoxious.

However, as I read more and more, and when he meets the professor and is struggling and trying to figure out what to do , I could hardly put it down and I can't wait to find out if he burns his own house or not and who turned him in!