Why did the Emergency Hospital send technicians instead of doctors to treat Mildred in Fahrenheit 451?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emergency Hospital sends technicians instead of doctors to treat suicide attempts because they have a machine for pumping stomachs and doctors are not needed.

In Fahrenheit 451, the people attempt suicide so often that there is a special “snake” used to pump their stomachs.  The snake is operated by technicians, so no doctors are needed. 

Montag is annoyed by the “impersonal” nature of the technicians.  One pumps the stomach, and the other replaces the blood.  He compares the woman whose stomach is being pumped to “a hard stratum of marble they had reached” (part 1).  The action of pumping her stomach is no more sympathetic than digging a trench.

Go on, anyway, shove the bore down, slush up the emptiness, if such a thing could be brought out in the throb of the suction snake. (part 1)

Apparently, suicide or drug use is quite common in Montag’s society.  There is very little emotion.  People live in a world of television and false reality.

And he thought of her lying on the bed with the two technicians standing straight over her, not bent with concern, but only standing straight, arms folded. (part 1)

Montag also realizes that he barely knows his wife, and therefore “he was certain he wouldn't cry” if she died.  He has come to fully realize how unreal his life is.

The impersonal way Mildred is treated has more of an effect on the reader than the earliest descriptions of the snake, which foreshadow Mildred's situation.  The reader sees the effect this life has on a familiar character.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Part One, Montag comes home from work and kicks an empty pill bottle. He then looks at Mildred, who is lying incapacitated on their bed staring directly at the ceiling. Montag immediately realizes that his wife has overdosed on sleeping pills and calls emergency services. When the emergency technicians arrive, they use two machines to pump Mildred's stomach and replace her old blood with new, fresh blood. Montag is shocked and disturbed at the impersonal, callous nature of the two emergency technicians, who are casually smoking as they revive Mildred. After their job is over, the two technicians request payment, and Montag asks if either of them is a doctor. The operator responds by telling Montag that they get about nine or ten overdose emergency calls per night, so the hospitals had special machines made to deal with the high volume of attempted suicides. He also tells Montag that an M.D. is not required to clean someone's stomach and replace their blood since the two machines do all the work. The emergency technicians then get another call concerning an overdose and quickly leave Montag's house to revive another citizen. Essentially, overdoses are so ubiquitous throughout Montag's dystopian society that emergency technicians with machines are licensed to revive citizens who've overdosed on various pills. 

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Fahrenheit 451

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