In Fahrenheit 451 are the people happy? Give examples to support your answer.

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schulzie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Everyone is different, and what might make you happy may not be what makes another person happy; however,it is extremely doubtful that the people in this society are happy.  At the beginning of the novel, Mildred almost commits suicide by taking too many pills.  They literally replaced her blood with new blood.  Montag asks why a doctor isn't present for this treatment.  The technician who operated the machine tells Montag,

"We get these cases nine or ten a night.  Got so many starting a few years ago, we had the special machines built." (pg 15). 

It seems everyone in this society medicates themselves. Mildred woke up, didn't remember anything, and continued to use drugs to medicate herself into a stupor. She is seen taking pills  just about every time she is mentioned.  People don't do that when they are happy.

Later, when Montag tries to communicate with Mildred, he remembers thinking that,

".....if she died he was certain he couldn't cry.  For it would be the dying of an was suddenly so very wrong that he had begun to cry, not at death but at the thought of not crying at death, a silly empty man near a silly empty woman." (pg 44)

She was always watching her walls, and they (the walls)  communicated with her. Her friends were doing the same thing.  This begins to gnaw at Montag.  He realizes no one is happy. When he visits Faber, Faber asks him why he suddenly was concerned about books.  He had been burning them for ten years, so what made him suddenly change his mind. Montag says,

"I don't know.  We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren't happy.  Something's missing.  I looked around.  The only thing I positively knew was gone was the books I'd burned in ten or twelve years. So I thought books might help." ( pg 82)

However, it is possible that the majority of the people  don't know that they are unhappy.  When Montag reads poetry to Mildred and her friends, Mrs. Phelps goes into tears.  Faber tells him,

"Pity, Montag, pity.  Don't haggle and nag them; you were so recently of them yourself......They do not know that this is all one huge, big blazing meteor that makes a pretty fire in space, but that someday it'll have to hit.  They see only the blaze of the pretty fire, as you saw it." (pg 103)

After Montag leaves the city and finds the group of men by the railroad tracks, Granger tells him,

"We all made the right kind of mistakes, or we wouldn't be here.  When we were separate individuals, all we had was rage.  I struck a fireman when he came to burn my library years ago.  I've been running ever since." (pg 150)

When they realize they aren't happy, they must leave the society. They can no longer exist in it. A glimmer of hope is delivered at the end of the novel when Granger tells about the Phoenix.  The society has killed itself with the atom bomb, and now it is time to take the death of that society and rise from the ashes.  That story is on page 163.




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