In Ray Bradbury’s novel, Fahrenheit 451, the protagonist, Guy Montag, realizes that though his world seems perfect, it is devoid of happiness. First, Montag sees that the people of the world do not interact well. Next, he becomes aware that his society does not respect the sanctity of life. Then, Montag notices that society does not reflect upon their actions. Finally, Montag realizes that his world is a horrible place because it is missing many aspects that equal a happy life. Montag sees that he and his wife Mildred cannot communicate and that their marriage has no love in it. After a day at work, Montag arrives at his house to find Mildred passed out and unresponsive. He calls for an ambulance and her stomach is pumped. Montag confronts Mildred in the morning: “ ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I wanted to talk to you.’ He paused. ‘You took all the pills in your bottle last night.’ ‘Oh, I wouldn’t do that,’ she said, surprised.
‘The bottle was empty.’
‘I wouldn’t do a thing like that. Why would I do a thing like that?’ she said. ‘Maybe you took two pills and forgot and took two more and forgot again and took two more and were so dopey you kept right on until you had thirty or forty of them in you.’ ‘Heck,’ she said, ‘what would I want to go and do a silly thing like that for?’ ” (Bradbury 19). Mildred is depressed and attempted to take her life. When confronted by her husband, she denies it. This is because the marriage lacks the communication and interaction that marriages need to survive. She will not express her feelings to her husband, so she only feels worse. Similarly, Montag cannot try to comfort Mildred because she will not talk. This leads to the fact that the world cannot function without social interaction. In Montag’s world, people simply do not interact normally. This leads to a vicious cycle of depression and isolation. Mildred started only slightly sad, but because she has no one to talk to, she dwells on the subject and becomes deeply depressed. This is normal occurrence in their world. Society is in such a poor state that people would rather kill themselves than talk to someone! This shows that people are depressed, and stay depressed, because they cannot communicate and interact.
Alternatively, Montag comes to realize that society has no value for life. Montag’s only true friend, Clarisse, reveals to Montag the terrible acts that are committed everyday: “ ‘I'm afraid of children my own age. They kill each other. Did it always used to be that way? My uncle says no. Six of my friends have been shot in the last year alone. Ten of them died in car wrecks. I’m afraid of them and they don’t like me because I’m afraid’ ” (Bradbury 30). The way Clarisse says this makes it seem to be obvious to the whole world, but to Montag it is a revelation. He sees that the society has transformed into something where life is worth no more than the gas in the car that hits the body. The most basic unit of living has changed from morality to mortality. People are killed for no reason other than for the entertainment of others. In this society, the government is killing all their enemies and that is the cause of the devaluation of life. The public sees the mass destruction of life in the world, which makes it seem to them to be acceptable, so now they will kill just for the sake of killing. Simply killing someone would soon leave them board though, so they make up games where they kill innocent by-standers. This degradation of life causes people to not only not care about each other, but leads to them not caring about themselves. They see the fragility in their lives, which leads them to the question “If life can end so quickly, then why is life worth living?” Thus, the devaluation of life causes unhappiness in Montag’s world.
Additionally, Montag realizes that the people are not sorry for their actions. Montag has just read aloud an excerpt from a book, which are illegal to have. Mildred’s friends are over and are appalled that Montag is reading this, so they start to tell him to stop. Montag responds with this:“ ‘Go home.’ Montag fixed his eyes upon her, quietly. ‘Go home and think of your first husband divorced and your second husband killed in a jet and your third husband blowing his brains out, go home and think of the dozen abortions you’ve had, go home and think of that and your damned cesarean sections, too, and your children who hate your guts! Go home and think how it all happened and what did you ever do to stop it? Go home, go home!’ he yelled. ‘Before I knock you down and kick you out of the door!’ ” (Bradbury 101). Montag sees that the world has no recognition of their actions anymore. He verbally abuses his wife’s friend. He knows that if the world does not change then it will not improve. Montag knows that people have to show remorse for their actions. Montag is not above attacking someone to get reactions. The world does not reflect upon their actions because they are too centered on themselves, and not their effect on others. By seeing the effect of their actions, society could improve. However, since people will not reflect upon their actions, then society will worsen. This proves that society’s lack of reflection is a factor in the depressive nature of Montag’s world.
Finally, Montag understands that the world is unhappy even though it is full of niceties. First, he sees that the society needs to communicate better. Second, Montag learns that life is devalued. Third, he understands that people are not sorry for anything. In conclusion, Guy Montag realizes that his world has no joy because society is missing key elements that garentee happiness.