Alienation in Fahrenheit 451
We sit on the subways and we ride on the busses, we drown the outside world with our headphones and our television sets, and we walk on the sidewalks brushing past one another just enough to avoid physical contact so that we can continue on our "merry" way towards our next destination. As a society, we beeline our way through life, weaving between moments of rendezvous and accidental concurrence, and we surround ourselves with instruments of interference in an attempt to pull ourselves out of the day-to-day life. As they say, art imitates life, and in a very sadistic way Fahrenheit 451 imitates what we are, and what we could become. Fahrenheit depicts a future where the common people surround themselves with such instruments to a degree far greater than our own. and it shows what could become of us if we are to continue gallivanting through life as individuals hermetically sealed with our instruments to avoid social communion. Through the use of dialogue and the use of Montag's interior monologue, the speaker displays a sense of alienation between the individuals in the society, causing the reader to reflect upon actions he or she has made that might have disconnected them from others.
When the story begins the reader sees that Montag is disconnected from his wife, Mildred, by witnessing a moment of interior monologue by him, and a dialogue between him and Mildred. Montag had just gotten off duty, and walked into an inevitable conversation with his new neighbor Clarisse McClellan. When the meeting came to a close Clarisse asks Guy a simple question of his true happiness. Montag enters his house just after the conversaion, stating "'[h]appy! Of all the nonsense.' He stopped laughing... Of course I'm happy. What does she think? I'm not? he asked the quiet rooms." (Page 10). Montag is clearly reflecting on the conversation he and Clarisse shared, and begins talking to himself, questioning her motives as to even ask such an absurd question. It appears to the reader that Montag is almost trying to convince himself that the life he leads is a happy one. The true testament to Montag's loneliness is that Montag is talking to himself. He has just entered the house and must carry on a conversation with himself to prove that he's not lonely, which is a contradiction of itself entirely. Montag could have just easily thought about discussing this with his beloved wife, Mildred, but chooses to go about it solo instead. Montag chooses to address this on his own, as the reader sees, because Mildred is too preoccupied with the 'parlor' and the seashells she uses to listen to it. Mildred plugs the seashells into her ears so that she can listen to the 'parlor' while she's not in the 'parlor'. We see this as Montag tries to have a conversation with her, "[Mildred] had both ears plugged with electronic bees that were humming the hour away... 'You all right?' he asked. She was an expert at lip reading from ten years of apprenticeship at Seashell ear thimbles." (Page 18). The quote shows Mildred as an expert lip-reader, no doubt because she wears the seashells all day long. It's sad to see that the wife in the marriage chooses to read lips of her husband so she can keep listening to her "shows", instead of just turning them off and having a conversation with her own husband. It appears to the reader that Montag is a second priority to Mildred's 'parlor', and Mildred probably sees an interaction between herself and her husband as a chore. It's the same situation shown in TV sitcoms nowadays where the husband doesn't want to turn the game off to see that his wife went out and bought a new dress. The spouse basically finds their own shallow entertainment more fulfilling than having a conversation with their other-half. No wonder Montag chose to converse with himself, because Mildred would probably only care during the commercials of her favorite shows.
Next, Montag begins to address his own alienation, he starts...
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