Ray Bradbury is one of the great science fiction writers of the 20th century. In Fahrenheit 451, he portrays a society that has given up on independent thinking, interaction with others, and the natural world itself. His vision of technology coupled with human desire for progress - ultimately leading to our degradation - is a controversial theme that remains relevant to this day.
The novel is set in a futuristic world where firemen start fires and all books are banned. A fireman, Montag, meets a woman named Clarisse while walking home one day. She asks him if he is happy. Although it is a seemingly innocent question, it causes Montag to evaluate his life.
Montag sees a woman who burned herself with her books. Even though it is illegal, Montag takes a book, an item he is sworn to destroy.
Montag's chief, Captain Beatty, knows that Montag has taken a book and attempts to explain why they have been censored, in hopes of reasoning with him. Beatty has committed many verses of famous literature to memory despite his job enforcing the destruction of literature.
The novel climaxes when Montag reads a poem to his wife and her friends, who have come over to watch television. The ladies leave disgusted, offended, and threaten to file a complaint against him. It is his wife who reports him to the authorities.
Montag is ordered to burn the books himself. Instead, he kills his chief and the other firemen in order to escape with the few books he has left. He is able to make his way down the river and finds a colony of intellectuals who love books.
Together with these people, he hopes to travel to St. Louis where he can speak to a book printer to try and reproduce books. At the last moment, jets appear overhead and decimate the colony. The novel ends with the group searching for survivors to rebuild civilization.