The novel presents a future American society in which the masses are hedonistic and critical thought through reading is outlawed. The central character, Guy Montag, is employed as a "fireman" (which, in this future, means "bookburner"). The number "451" refers to the temperature at which book paper combusts. Although sources contemporary with the novel's writing gave the temperature as 450 °C (842 °F), Bradbury is believed to have thought "Fahrenheit" made for a better title[page needed]; however, in an introduction to the 40th anniversary edition of the novel, Bradbury states that a person he spoke with at the local fire department said "Book-paper catches fire at 451 degrees Fahrenheit". The "firemen" burn them "for the good of humanity". Written in the early years of the Cold War, the novel is a critique of what Bradbury saw as issues in American society of the era.
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