What are the two machines used on Mildred in Fahrenheit 451?

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The two machines used on Mildred form part of a medical procedure she undergoes after overdosing on sleeping pills. The two machines work in tandem, with one, described as resembling a snake in appearance, pumping the toxins from her stomach, while the other removes and replaces all of her blood. While both machines require a technician to operate them, the process is largely automated, without requiring advanced medical training.

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When she is first introduced in Fahrenheit 451, Montag's wife, Mildred, is shown having overdosed on sleeping pills. When Montag finds her, along with the now empty bottle of pills, he calls the hospital. The machines used on Mildred are used as part a medical procedure, which cleans out the toxins in her stomach and blood. As is common to Ray Bradbury's writing style, he describes the first machine in terms of metaphor, comparing it to a snake going down into Mildred's stomach, actively searching. Meanwhile, the second machine sucks out her blood and replaces it with fresh blood, free of whatever toxins had accumulated. In the context of the larger medical procedure, the machines work in tandem.

Note that each machine requires an operator. Therefore, just as there are two machines, there are also two technicians running those machines. The stomach pump machine seems to be equipped with a camera of some sort. This allows its technician to view the insides of the patient while conducting the procedure. Note, however, Montag's complaint about their lack of medical credentials, as he himself states to the technicians, "neither of you is an M.D." (Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451). Given the nature of this exchange (both Montag's complaint and the technician's response), this entire procedure seems to be heavily automated, and does not require much in the way of medical training.

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Montag discovers that his wife, Mildred, has taken too many sleeping pills, so he calls emergency medical people who come to his house to use two machines on Mildred. The first machine slides down her throat into her stomach; it is described as a "black cobra," as the machine slides like a snake. This contraption is described as sucking from the well in Mildred's interior. It works silently, except for an occasional noise that sounds like suffocation, and it is operated by a man who wears an optical helmet and who can see what the eye on the end of the snake sees. The other machine, operated by another person, sucks all the blood out of Mildred's body and replaces it with fresh blood. These two machines together cleanse Mildred's body of the pills she has taken.

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When Mildred attempts suicide by overdosing on pills, she is sent to the hospital. What is notable about her experience is the clinical detachment and disinterest with which she is treated. It is as if she is not a human being. In fact, she is described as "no more than a hard stratum of marble" that the machines work on.

The first machine, which pumps Mildred's stomach, is described as a snake slithering into Mildred's body. Although an inanimate object, it is like the mechanical hound in having a seemingly malevolent edge. All through the novel, the technology that is supposed to serve people has a threatening, cruel quality to it.

The second machine replaces the blood in Mildred's body. It is not likened to an animal, but the operator who runs it seems almost machinelike in his detachment.

The other machine was operated by an equally impersonal fellow in non-stainable reddish-brown overalls. This machine pumped all of the blood from the body and replaced it with fresh blood and serum.

After the procedure is over, the technicians simply want to be paid. This suggests, first, that a person overdosing on pills is nothing unusual to them. It shows as well the coldness of this culture. People perform a life-saving operation without seeming to care about the life they are saving.

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Early in the book, Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, the protagonist, Guy Montag gets home from work to find that his wife, Mildred has taken an entire bottle of sleeping pills, so he calls in an emergency. Once the emergency crew arrive at the house, Mildred is hooked up to two machines. The first one pumps out her stomach while the second one pumps out and replaces all of her blood. They use both machines to make sure they get all of the poison out of her body.

"One of them slid down into your stomach like a black cobra down an echoing well looking for all the old water and the old time gathered there. It drank up the green matter that flowed to the top in a slow boil. Did it drink of the darkness? Did it suck out all the poisons accumulated with the years..." (Bradbury 8)

Both machines are operated by technicians. The first machine has an "eye" through which the operator can see the process. The second machine not only replaces the old blood but also the serum. The tech on the blood machine tells Montag,

"No use getting the stomach if you don't clean the blood. Leave that stuff in the blood and the blood hits the brain like a mallet, bang, a couple of thousand times and the brain just gives up, just quits." (Bradbury 8)

When they are finished, the technicians pack up and leave Montag with Mildred, her once pale cheeks now pink from the blood transfusion.

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