Fahrenheit 451

by: Ray Bradbury

Dissatisfaction

Quotes Dissatisfaction
We get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many, starting a few years ago, we had the special machines built.

After Montag returns home to discover that Mildred has taken pills and is unresponsive in her bed, he questions why the hospital sent a machine instead of a doctor to help her. This response given by a hospital operator highlights how common suicide attempts are and how the hospital has decided to handle such events. Mildred later refuses to even discuss taking the pills with Montag. Many in this society live like Mildred, watching endless amounts of television. The fact that these people also regularly attempt suicide points to the deep unhappiness people feel in this world without human connection or learning.

Did you hear Beatty? Did you listen to him? He knows all the answers. He’s right. Happiness is important. Fun is everything. And yet I kept sitting there saying to myself, I’m not happy, I’m not happy. I am.” Mildred’s mouth beamed. “And proud of it.”

This conversation between Montag and Mildred takes place after Beatty has spoken to Montag about how banning books can increase public happiness. Montag has been thinking about the question of his own happiness since Clarisse asked him if he was happy. Montag is starting to examine his life and understands that something is missing, while Mildred is content with a life of watching television. However, we know that Mildred tried to kill herself at the beginning of the novel, so while she may follow society’s rules of what should make her happy, there must be something missing for her as well.

Anyway, Pete and I always said, no tears, nothing like that. It’s our third marriage each and we’re independent. Be independent, we always said. He said, if I get killed off, you just go right ahead and don’t cry, but get married again and don’t think of me.

When Montag insists on talking about the war with Mildred’s friends, Mrs. Phelps explains the conversation she and her husband had about what would happen if one of them died. This anecdote is an example of how disconnected even married couples are from one another in this world. Like Montag and Mildred not being able to remember how they met, or the use of separate beds, Mrs. Phelps demonstrates that people seem to coexist rather than nurture relationships.

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 books might help.

When Montag first arrives at Faber’s house, he explains what prompted him to begin reading and trying to understand what was special about books. At the beginning of the novel, Montag felt pleasure from burning books, even though he did not consider why he was doing it. However, after meeting Clarisse, watching his wife attempt suicide, and seeing a woman burned alive because she did not want to part with her books, he understands there is something missing.