Even though it’s a relatively short book (just around 200 pages), the words in Fahrenheit 451 are so pointed and searing that choosing a list of my favorite Fahrenheit 451 quotes was more than a challenge.
From one-liners that make your breath catch, to paragraphs that race, here are the ones that struck me the hardest.
“It was a pleasure to burn.”
“‘Bet I know something else you don’t. There’s dew on the grass in this morning.’ He suddenly couldn’t remember if he had known this or not, and it made him quite irritable.”
“He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself. He recognized this as the true state of affairs. He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back.”
“‘Why is it,’ he said, one time, at the subway entrance, ‘I feel I’ve known you so many years?’ ‘Because I like you,’ she said, ‘and I don’t want anything from you.’
“‘We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?'”
“‘There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.'”
“‘A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon.'”
“‘Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.'”
“‘Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.'”
“‘That’s the good part of dying; when you’ve nothing to lose, you run any risk you want.'”
“‘The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are.'”
“‘Remember, the firemen are rarely necessary. The public itself stopped reading of its own accord.'”
“‘What is there about fire that’s so lovely? No matter what age we are, what draws us to it?’ Beatty blew out the flame and lit it again. ‘It’s perpetual motion; the thing man wanted to invent but never did.'”
“‘But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up under then. It can’t last.'”
“‘And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for all the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the backyard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them just the way he did. He was individual.’”
“I’ll hold onto the world tight some day. I’ve got one finger on it now; that’s a beginning.”
“‘We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, We’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And someday we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in it and cover it up.'”
“To everything there is a season. Yes. A time to break down, and a time to build up. Yes. A time to keep silence and a time to speak. Yes, all that.”
And, then of course, one of the Fahrenheit 451 quotes I’m most especially partial to:
“‘Stuff your eyes with wonder,’ he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic that any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that,’ he said, ‘shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.'”
At Book Riot, we’re especially partial to Fahrenheit 451 quotes as tattoos. Rebecca’s sporting her own version of this quote, which you can check out in this post of Rioter’s literary tattoos.
If you want more sci-fi/fantasy quotes, well, check out Kate’s fantastic post on her favorite Lord of the Rings quotes. After reading through all of those Fahrenheit 451 quotes, it’s making me itch to read the book again, which given the current political and cultural climate, might be a terror all its own… What do you think, and what are your favorite Fahrenheit 451 quotes?