The issue of happiness—or the lack thereof—is important in the novel, as the society’s rulers try to keep people from thinking about their personal emotions by providing them with ample entertaining distractions. As Guy Montag increasingly wonders about the causes of his personal dissatisfaction, he thinks more about the possible role of happiness and what might constitute it for him.
Montag’s initial encounter with Clarisse provides a stimulus for his later questioning. In their random meeting and walk through the quiet evening, Clarisse reflects on the beauty of the natural world that people driving fast see only as blurs: “A pink blur! That’s a rose garden.” As they approach her house, Montag is surprised to see it illuminated and even more startled when she says her family has conversation. Her last question, almost an afterthought, is, “Are you happy?”
The image of the interior of his house starkly contrasts to what he saw through her windows. As he tosses off the “nonsense” of considering happiness, he observes the quiet living room and then enters the “cold marble mausoleum” of the bedroom.
When Montag calls in sick and Captain Beatty comes to visit him, the captain lectures him about the social changes that led to the prohibition against books. He also mentions the increasing speed of the world, with “crowds going somewhere, somewhere, somewhere, nowhere." He also describes the decline in controversial published materials, as what remained was “a nice blend of vanilla tapioca.” In the contemporary world, “you can stay happy all the time."