When is Mildred asked if she is happy in Fahrenheit 451?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In part one, Captain Beatty visits Montag's home after he calls in sick to work and attempts to persuade Montag that preserving knowledge and reading literature is futile. After Captain Beatty leaves, Montag expresses his desire to hold onto the recent unhappy feeling that he has experienced, and he refuses to go into work. Mildred responds by suggesting that Montag take the beetle for a ride, and Montag admits that he is not happy. Mildred then says, "I am . . . And proud of it" (Bradbury, 31). Mildred insisting that she is happy illustrates her ignorance and denial. She is clearly unhappy with her superficial, meaningless life, despite her response. Given the fact that she attempted to kill herself by taking thirty sleeping pills the previous night, one can surmise that Mildred is not happy at all. She is in denial about her life and would rather remain unhappy than attempt to make a dramatic change like her husband.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Fahrenheit 451, Mildred is never directly asked if she is happy but, at the end of Part One, she declares that she is happy to Montag as he bemoans his unhappiness:

"I am." Mildred's mouth beamed. "And proud of it." 

To put this into context, she has just advised Montag to "take the beetle" and go driving, as a means of making himself happy. According to Mildred, it feels "wonderful" to go out into the countryside and drive fast, sometimes for the entire night. Evidently, this is how she copes with bouts of unhappiness when they occur. 

It is ironic that Mildred would declare her happiness in the novel, considering that she attempted suicide just a little while earlier. The fact that she will not admit it, even to her husband, demonstrates the extent of her self-imposed repression and her need to appear happy on the outside, no matter how she feels inside. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial