At culture, politics, and everyday life. To take
At the beginning of The Cold War, which began quickly after World War II, anti-communism infiltrated the United States and affected American culture, politics, and everyday life. To take care of this matter, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin took it upon himself and made pervasive claims to expose communists while blaming public officials for aiding the communists. McCarthyism, the term given for the sequence of investigations and accusations of communist infiltration in the U.S. government, overtook the 1950s in the United States. The climate of fear and hysteria, which rapidly spread throughout the United States, stirred from the escalation of the Cold War in the early 1950s. During a time of extreme disorder, Ray Bradbury formulated a book pertaining the modern condition of the United States to ongoing issues. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury emphasizes the societal beliefs during the 1950s, including censorship and anticommunism, in his novel about dystopian societies revolving around technological advancements.
In the early 1950s, following the Allied victory of World War II in 1945, panic over the alleged Communist threat diffused in the United States. The second Red Scare occurred as a result of the beginning of the Cold War and fear in regard to the nation’s security. Americans began to see the Soviet’s threat with nuclear bombs and expansions into the Europe and Africa. In the midst of complete chaos, “there were red scares in labor, education, religion, business, the fine arts, and, in a multiplicity of forms, at the local community level” (Carleton 14). This Red Scare came as a result of the anxiousness of the nation’s security in regard to the outbreak of the Cold War. Anti-communist hysteria almost suffocated the United States and “by the 1950s, the perception of danger from communist subversion had portrayed so profoundly, so dramatically, and so often that few Americans questioned its credibility” (Foster 17). Old fears resurfaced in the United States while “anxieties further were intensified when the sinister threat of communist infiltration from within was also matched by threats of attack from without” (Foster 17). Anti-communist beliefs permeated every feature of postwar American life because of growing fears of Soviet expansion. The Red Scare led to distorted “Cold War rhetoric and action, intensified nationalistic sentiment, fueled what President Eisenhower named “the military-industrial complex,” and contributed to the success and domination of corporate America (Foster 11). Americans belief that communism was attempting to infiltrate every aspect of their lives grew steadily during the Cold War and postwar, a fear that was instigated by Joseph McCarthy. Fears began to intensify in the United States, and “this lifestyle was embraced, legitimated, and at times, manipulated by all the major forces in society, including the media,” that became an easy style of living for Americans to embrace (Foster 12). In the midst of an anxious society, President Harry S. Truman took advantage of the situation by assembling the Federal Employee Loyalty Program that looked to examine the Communist Party. The House Un-American Activities Committee, known as the HUAC, first created in the late 1930s and used in the 1950s, aimed to investigate individuals and pressure them into surrender information that was associated with possible Communist influence.
Senator Joseph McCarthy, who knew there was much to politically acquire, was on the other side of the various Red Scare actions. As a result of this knowledge, he conducted a speech that resulted in a worldwide state of hysteria about rebels in the American government. By making accusations “on February 9, 1950, the McCarthy era was inaugurated in Wheeling, West Virginia. In an address to the Republican Women’s Club, the Senator claimed to possess a list of 205 communists working in the State Government” and began a movement known as “McCarthyism” (McNamara 85). McCarthyism was the usual tactic associated with indiscriminate accusations in the overthrow of communism. McCarthyism and the resulting communistic fears played a role on how Americans reacted to the effects it brought, especially in regard to the psychological aspect. Feeding off of American’s fears, “the red scare’s best known symbol was Joseph R. McCarthy, the Republican from Wisconsin whose own behavior provided a name for the principal red scare technique” (Carleton 13). Although his allegations were ultimately proven to be untrue, he was condemned by the Senate for his inappropriate behavior.
In the 1950s, there were various, impactful advancements in technology in the United States. Censorship in society from improvements in technology occurred when “American computer advances became the subject of intense scrutiny, eager imitation and idealogical critique, all at the same time” (Gerovitch 256). The 1950s was a time of a great amount of censorship caused by technological advancements. During a time of impact after the Cold War, technical tools like “the computer was seen both as an indispensable tool for weapons design and control, and as a cultural symbol of technology freed from ideology” (Gerovitch 276). Also, “the American film industry of the 1950s and early 1960s” brought about and “redefined the entire field of procedures, tradition, methods, routines and norms in the film industry and established a new entertainment experience” (Kitsopanidou 48). Advancements in technology and entertainment resulted in Americans turning away from physical knowledge provided through books.
Ray Bradbury, an American science fiction novelist, was affected by this time period. Bradbury wrote about the societal fears to stir the plot in his book and provided social commentary based on the condition of his time. He published Fahrenheit 451 in the midst of the accusations made by Senator Joseph McCarty and the HUAC in 1953, the occurrence of the second Red Scare, and immense advancements in technology. He used the conditions of his time to strategically convey a novel that includes a variety of social commentaries.
Ray Bradbury encases a copious amount of diverse social opinions in the time period throughout his book. The idea of censorship from the Nazis during World War II is enclosed throughout Ray Bradbury’s novel. In World War II, the Nazis set thousands of books on fire, paralleling to the firefighters in Bradbury’s story. This idea is shown in the story by suppressing what people are allowed to read, speak, or view. Since a book can carry ideas that are interpreted as dangerous, it relates to “a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind” (Bradbury 56). The firefighters think they are cleansing society by saying to “Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean” (Bradbury 57). In contrast, this idea of censorship is conquered at the conclusion of the book when Montag, the protagonist, escapes the ruthless city to outsiders while holding onto his objective of passing on knowledge and books to coming generations. Montag’s identity is transformed when he becomes aware of the city’s destruction, and realizes that “a lot of it will be wrong, but just enough of it will be right. We’ll just start walking today and see the world and the way the world walks around and talks, the way it really looks” (Bradbury 154). In order to preserve books, they memorize them to pass on knowledge and Montag comes to realize that he now has something to offer in the world. The concept of censorship from the Nazis during World War II is enclosed throughout Ray Bradbury’s novel, along with idea of careful communication during the McCarthy era.
Senator McCarthy’s accusations also affected the writing in Ray Bradbury’s story written in 1953. The social disgrace toward creative, social, and artistic people like Bradbury, is shown throughout the book. Clarisse, a young, outgoing girl, says that “I’m antisocial, they say. I don’t mix. It’s so strange. I’m very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn’t it? Social to me means talking to you about things like this” (Bradbury 26). Bradbury shows the consequences of criticizing individualism by using his anger toward McCarthy while using trials of artisans. McCarthy noticed differing views as threats and thought conforming was the best idea, just like many Americans did to defend themselves from being accused. In Fahrenheit 451, Beatty claims that “serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag” are the overarching objectives of burning books, like that of accusing communists in the United States (Bradbury 57). Actions that seemed positive during its occurrence, resulted in destruction.
A significant ideal that influenced Bradbury as an author was the communistic idea of censorship and the result of technological advancements. Throughout the story, censorship is a central theme that is displayed by presenting that the role of the firefighters is to burn books, rather than to extinguish fires in the futuristic world of Fahrenheit 451. For the firemen, who represent the government, “it was a pleasure to burn” books to prevent citizens questioning the condition of the world (Bradbury 1). The society portrayed in the book is consumed with entertainment. The firemen withdraw the ability to read and obtain knowledge by controlling the public and removing all evidence of books. Technology and entertainment become an extreme distraction, taking control over people’s views and behavior. During a time of technological advancements, Ray Bradbury incorporates Montag, the protagonist, as “a member of the state apparatus which enforces such prescriptions by destroying the books which might counteract the solicitations of the media” (Seed 227). The influence of mass media led to the simplification of things, “then—motion pictures in the early twentieth century. Radio. Television. Things began to have mass” (Bradbury 51). Before developments in technology, the world used to be accepting of the diverse opinions that people had, but then too many people had differing views. Technology caused a faster-paced society because “they could afford to be different. The world was roomy. But then the world got full of eyes and elbows and mouths,” causing books to become “leveled down to a sort of paste pudding norm (Bradbury 51). The idea of censorship and the advancements in technology is covered in Bradbury’s story.
The second Red Scare, the McCarthy era, and technological growth affected Bradbury, as he wrote about the societal fears to stir the plot in his book, Fahrenheit 451. He provided social commentary based on the nature of his time and how it was shaping the United States. Fahrenheit 451 successfully reflects the transformations in America in the early 1950s and exhibits society’s responding actions. A variety of the societal matters were echoed in Bradbury’s work while he strategically wrote to illustrate how McCarthyism was constructing the culture of the United States. Bradbury emphasizes the societal beliefs during the 1950s, including censorship and anticommunism, in his novel, Fahrenheit 451, about dystopian societies revolving around technological advancements.