Society in which they live in is neither happy or sad, but emotionless. In this society, the government believes that in order to make their citizens happy they must get rid of books. Reading books is no longer accepted in society and if books are found, they will be burned. Little to no happiness is shown in Fahrenheit 451. The society as a whole has become content with wasting their lives away by watching television all day, while a few consider what the real meaning of life and happiness could be. Throughout this novel, Bradbury portrays what our world could turn to, and sends a warning on how this could be avoided.
Guy Montag is a firefighter who burns books for a living. In the beginning of the novel Montag enjoys his job, and believes that he is happy. That is until he meets Clarisse McClellan. Clarisse asks Montag if he is happy. His initial response was yes he was happy, but really he had not thought about it until he was asked. It was then that he realized he was not happy. When Montag got home, he found his wife, Mildred, who overdosed on sleeping pills. “We get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many, starting a few years ago, we had the special machines built… Just had another call on the old ear thimble. Ten blocks from here. Someone else just jumped off the cap of a pillbox” (Bradbury 13). It is possible that the citizens, including Mildred, are taking too many sleeping pills because they are unhappy with their lives. They live in a society where denial of unhappiness is a way of life. The society is so caught up in their technology, so they cannot find true happiness. “It’s really fun. It’ll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed. How long you figure before we save up and get a fourth wall-TV put in? It’s only two thousand dollars” (Bradbury 18). Mildred is willing to spend one-third of her husbands yearly pay to buy another wall-TV. She thinks this will make her happy, but really it is just a distraction from reality. They will not admit that they are not happy because they do not know what true happiness is.
“There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing” (Bradbury 48). Montag says this to Mildred after a woman refused to leave her house as the firefighters were burning it down. Montag tried to make the old woman leave her house, but she would not go. The old woman did not agree with the government's policy on burning books. After this, he was overwhelmed with guilt. This ignited Montag’s rebellion. He now had a burning desire to read books, and a passion to learn from them. This sparked his interest to go look for Faber, a retired English professor.
Montag goes to talk to Faber about the books that he has read. Montag has a copy of the Bible with him. Faber cannot believe his eyes when he sees the book. Montag explains to Faber that no one listens to him any more. He says that he can’t talk to the walls because they’re yelling at him, and he can’t talk to his wife because she only listens to the walls. Montag wants someone to listen to him and he says that if he talks long enough maybe it’ll make sense. Faber realizes that Montag is upset about the books, but doesnt understand why. He asks him what knocked the torch from his hands. “I don’t know. We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren’t happy. Something’s missing. I looked around. The only thing I positively knew was gone was the books I’d burned in ten or twelve years. So I thought that might help” (Bradbury 78). Montag realizes that something from society is missing and that people are too invested in their technology. “It’s not the books you need, it’s some of the things that were once in the books” (Bradbury 78). Faber does not like technology because he thinks it does not teach people what a book can teach. He explains why books are important by telling Montag three things necessary for a rich intellectual life. One, books have quality of information. Two, leisure to digest it. Three, the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two.
The society in which they live is being drowned by the technology they own. In a way this could be our future as well. People are buying more technology products and less books. Some in our society may try to argue that our phones have all of the information we need, but reading books improve your knowledge, memory, language, and stimulates your imagination. Also, as seen in the novel, technology disconnects you from society. You spend more time on your devices than talking to people. Our society must learn the importance of socializing before our future becomes the same as this dystopian novel.