20th century technology needs a lot of maintenance from educated people. If a society becomes less educated, and even illiterate by banning books, how can they maintain that level of technology, and how will the future generations of engineers learn it if books are banned? Do children learn to read at all in schools?

At first, I was thinking that only literature is banned, and everything else (student's books, technical manuals, letters, newspapers etc.) are allowed, but I remember that even newspapers don't contain any text, only illustrations.

  • 2
    Excellent question...
    – apoorv020
    Jun 7, 2012 at 10:02
  • Apprenticeships?
    – Xantec
    Jun 7, 2012 at 11:26

3 Answers 3


The how's of the book are less important than the why's (basically you, the reader, are suppose to wonder the possibilities of a world without books than how is works).

However to logically answer your question their are a couple of ideas to ponder.

  1. A privileged class that is allowed to know how to read such as in the book Harrison Bergeron that remains unseen.

  2. Pictographs and Oral History, alot of skill sets in history where transferred from one generation to the other this way.

  3. Some new technology has replaced the need from learning from books because in the story at one point Captain Beatty talks to Montag and tells them that books have no value that because of technology and new media books tried to keep up and failed.

  • It's also possible that technical manuals are excepted since they tell you how to do rather than how to think.
    – miltonaut
    Aug 26, 2016 at 3:54

You don't need to know how to read to be able to watch How-To videos.

Finding the right video may be difficult, but then, how does Mildred (the main character's wife) find the programs she wants to watch? It's been a while, but I don't recall there being only one channel.


Since you are asking about the universe, not specifically the movie, I would say they read manuals. We know that there is some writing in the book because we get told that there are written "scripts" comprising "lines":

She didn't look up from her script again. "Well, this is a play comes on the wall-to-wall circuit in ten minutes. They mailed me my part this morning. I sent in some box-tops. They write the script with one part missing. It's a new idea. The home-maker, that's me, is the missing part. When it comes time for the missing lines, they all look at me out of the three walls and I say the lines: Here, for instance, the man says, `What do you think of this whole idea, Helen?' And he looks at me sitting here centre stage, see? And I say, I say --" She paused and ran her finger under a line in the script.

("She" being Mildred, Mondays wife). So we can assume that the technical stuff might also be written down.

I guess the movie has excised that bit because a world that has done away with Balzac and Shakepeare while retaining technical manuals and the script for Jersey Shore might possibly fail to elicit the kind of shocked response the director was after.

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