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Posted: August 30th, 2023

Leaving a Lasting Impact: Lessons from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

HIS 1200, Medieval World. Unit VIII Challenge Question
Reading: Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a
painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your
hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at
that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as
you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after
you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener
is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener
will be there a lifetime.” – 149-150
What will you change today? Who will you change today? What history are you making? Unit VIII Final Project
In your final project, you are asked to answer a series of questions that incorporate knowledge and information you have gained throughout the entire course. In answering these questions, please ensure that you fully answer each aspect of every question, fully explain your answers (providing historical context when necessary), and include specific examples from history to support your answers. Please answer the following questions within a Word document, and upload that document into Blackboard for grading. Be sure to read and follow all instructions given in the questions. APA Style will not be required for this assignment.

Part 1: Please choose 2 of the following 3 questions to answer. Each response should consist of at least 200 words.
1. What were some of the core ideas of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation? How did people react to this new religious movement, and how did the Protestant Reformation interact with other social movements in the 1500s? How does the Protestant Reformation compare to modern social or religious movements? How do the ideas of the Reformation continue to influence the modern world?

2. What were some key arguments of Machiavelli in his book The Prince? Which do you agree and/or disagree with, and why? Machiavelli argued that politics is about control and power (rather than alternatives such as solving problems or protecting citizens for example). How does this argument and his other views compare to modern government and politics?

3. What were some of the significant (religious, political, cultural, social, and/or technological) changes that marked the transition from medieval to early modern society? How does this transition compare to the transition from classical to medieval society in the period of Late Antiquity? What can this teach us about the causes of significant historical change?

Part 2: Please choose 4 of the following 6 questions to answer. Each response should consist of at least 200 words.
1. How did medieval societies deal with violence? What role(s) did violence play in medieval societies? How do European and non-European societies compare? How does this compare to modern society?

2. The purpose of government is to protect people from internal and external threats. How did medieval governments attempt to accomplish this? How did this affect cultural interaction and conflict? What effects did their approaches have on medieval and modern societies?

3. Are medieval problems and approaches to solving problems similar or different to modern problems and approaches? Why? What are some specific examples? What can these tell us about human nature?

4. How did the spread of knowledge, ideas, and religions affect western and non-western medieval societies? How did they affect internal and external interaction? Which medieval concepts had the most significant influence on medieval society and on modern society?

5. How does modern society’s collective memory of the medieval period and historical reality compare? What influences shape our memory of this period, and how does it affect our knowledge of historical reality?

6. If you had to teach one thing from this course to people who knew nothing about medieval world history, what would you teach them, and why would you teach it?

Part 3: Please answer BOTH of the following questions. Your response to the first question should consist of at least 200 words, and your response to the second question should consist of at least 100 words.
1. Select two hypothetical individuals from the medieval period—one European and one non-European—from any part of society, and describe how they might have interacted with and viewed the world around them. What would they have experienced, and how would they have viewed or described what they experienced? What would their daily lives have been like? What were their religious beliefs and cultural traditions? How did they interact with others? What were the most significant influences in their lives? How did they make decisions, and what types of decisions might they have made? What would they have been free from and/or dependent on?
2. Briefly discuss the similarities and differences between the worldviews of the individuals you described in the previous question and modern worldviews. Are people much different today from people of the past? Why, or why not? What can this tell us about history and human nature?
Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Translated by Harvey C. Mansfield. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press. 1998.

Leaving a Lasting Impact: Lessons from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury’s timeless novel, Fahrenheit 451, invites readers to reflect upon their influence on the world around them, echoing the sentiment that each individual must leave something meaningful behind. This notion, expressed through the words of the protagonist’s grandfather, encapsulates the idea that the mark we leave on the world is a testament to our existence and a connection to our soul even after we depart. This insight transcends the pages of Bradbury’s work and finds relevance in our lives today.

Changing Today, Shaping Tomorrow

The passage underscores the profound impact of human agency and the choices we make. It invites us to consider the changes we can effect in the world, whether they be small gestures or grand endeavors. The concept of change is universal; it applies to our personal lives, our communities, and society at large. By altering the course of things, by adding our touch, we create a link between our presence and the legacy we leave behind. A tree we plant, a piece of art we create, or a relationship we nurture—all of these become extensions of ourselves, a continuation of our essence.

Historical Reflections and Modern Parallels

Bradbury’s message resonates beyond the realm of literature. In the context of history, the sentiment applies to movements, revolutions, and the enduring impact of influential figures. The Protestant Reformation, for instance, brought about a transformation in religious and societal norms. Martin Luther’s core ideas challenged the authority of the Catholic Church, sparking change that rippled through Europe and beyond. Just as the Reformation interacted with other social movements in the 1500s, today’s world witnesses modern social and religious movements that reframe norms and trigger debates, much like Luther’s ideas did.

A Challenge for Today

Bradbury’s passage poses a question that continues to be relevant: What will we change today? This challenge beckons us to consider how we can shape our world in meaningful ways, how our actions can be touchstones for our existence, long after we’re gone. Whether it’s advocating for justice, fostering empathy, or contributing to the arts and sciences, we’re part of a continuum that stretches beyond our lifetimes. Just as the difference between a lawn-cutter and a gardener lies in the depth of their touch, our enduring legacy is sculpted by the imprint we leave on the world, inspiring future generations to continue the journey of change.

As we navigate the complexities of the modern world, the essence of Bradbury’s words remains undiminished—encouraging us to embark on a path of purposeful change, bridging the gap between the present and the future, and ensuring that our souls have somewhere to go when we leave this world.


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