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In Fahrenheit 451, after working with Mildred, the machine operator tells Montag that...

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blah437 | Student | eNoter

Posted July 27, 2011 at 3:24 AM via web

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In Fahrenheit 451, after working with Mildred, the machine operator tells Montag that “we get these cases nine or ten a night.”  What is the significance of this?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 27, 2011 at 3:31 AM (Answer #1)

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It is clear that what the machine operators tell Montag about the high incidence of attempted suicide attempts reveals the way in which the dumbed down form of society that the novel presents us with, where books are illegal and citizens are encouraged to engage in forms of entertainment that only serve to expose the emptiness and meaninglessness of their lives, is resulting in people lacking lives of depth, significance and meaning. Note what the operator says:

We get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many, starting a few years ago, we had the special machines built. With the optical lens fo course, that was new; the rest is ancient. You don't need an M. D., case like this; all you need it two handymen, clean up the problem in half an hour.

The suicide attempts are clearly linked to the changes in society, and the fact that they get so many "cases" like this every single night that they have had to invent new machines to cope with it points towards the deep unhappiness of so many of the populace. The case of Mildred is obviously the norm rather than the exception.

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