In "Fahrenheit 451" do Mildred’s friends fit “society’s illusions of happiness” or “conformity and following society’s rule”? Mildred’s friends and Mildred herself can...

In "Fahrenheit 451" do Mildred’s friends fit “society’s illusions of happiness” or “conformity and following society’s rule”?

 Mildred’s friends and Mildred herself can only be matched to one category each (either “society’s illusions of happiness” or “conformity and following society’s rule”).  That is, if Mildred represents “conformity”, then her friends must represent “society’s illusions of happiness”.

Expert Answers
mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

They both could fit under both categories; however, I am going to say that Mildred fits under "conformity" and her friends under "illusions of happiness."  If we take a look at the best glimpse we have of her friends, they seem simply incabable of dealing with any kind of stress, worry, or sadness; they appear to be happy, but it is just an illusion.  They brush negativity off instantly.  When Montag brings up the war, Mrs. Phelps optimistically says of her hubby that just got called to fight, "He'll be back next week...I'm not worried...I'll let Pete do all the worrying." and then she giggles.  She says that her and Pete promised not to shed a tear if something happened, but to go right ahead and get married again.  So, cover up any misery with more activity; cover unhappiness with the illusion of happiness.

When Montag reads them the poem, it wipes their illusions away; Mrs. Phelps is left "sobbing uncontrollably" and Mrs. Bowles gets angry at Montag for reading "hurting words".  They can't stand the thought of anything unhappy; when forced to think of it, they get angry, break down, and try to distract themselves, all to promote the illusion of happiness.

Mildred, as she recoils at the reading of books and eventually calls Montag in to the fire station, can fit under conformity; she tells on her husband just like a good citizen would.

Read the study guide:
Fahrenheit 451

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question