Reasons for the Frequent Suicide Attempts in Fahrenheit 451

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Suicides occur at an alarming rate in the book Fahrenheit 451; however, the people who commit suicide tend to vary in their personal traits. There are two basic types of people called into view in the book: they are the martyr and the apathetic. The two groups vary greatly, and initially so do their reasons for suicide, for example the martyr die for a cause -in this story they are dying to save books- and the apathetic seem to choose suicide due to boredom. Yet, these two groups are actually dying for the same reasons. They are committing suicide due to unhappiness within their society, their expected behavior, and oppression.

Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian state with a totalitarian government. In their society books have become illegal and are believed to be the source of controversy and evil. However, there are some citizens who risk their lives, and take their own, to save the books. These characters, such as the woman, will become martyrs to bring attention to the cause. Beatty rationalizes that the firemen should not care, “besides these fanatics always try suicide” (36). All of the firemen besides Montag are fine with watching the old woman kill herself; however, Montag is not, so he tries to persuade her not to commit suicide. He is unsuccessful and is left with the nagging thought of “there must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house” (48). By that simple thought being planted in Montag’s mind the old woman’s mission was complete.

However, if it had not been for Mildred’s attempted suicide, Montag would not have been any different than the rest of the firemen. When Montag meets with Faber his reasoning for being interested in books is “My wife’s dying (…) someone who may have been a friend was burnt less than twenty-four hours ago” (77). It is known that Mildred’s attempted suicide influenced Montag’s decision, but why did she attempt suicide? The answer is simple, she has been suppressed by so...
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