Fahrenheit 451 is a novel by Ray Bradbury about a society where the people dont have any concerns for others. Everyone is only after the materialistic things in life, which supposedly brings them happiness. However, if everyone is so happy, why do voluminous people try to commit suicide every night? By portraying many figures who never even wonder about their lot in life, Fahrenheit 451 seems to imply that apathy is a very important element in the decline of Montags society.
Fahrenheit 451 is a novel about a society in which people like materialistic things, fireman burn books, and people are dying just about everyday. At many times, it seems as though if the society is perfect. Conversely, the one thing that the society lacks that keeps them away from such a perfect place to live in, is their sympathy towards others. Montag lives in a society where people hardly ever have any emotions whatsoever. They dont feel anything inside themselves, let alone caring about others around them. This lack of sympathy is causing the society to crumble down and shrivel into nothing.
The societys downfall is portrayed at the end of the book, when the society falls after losing the war. When we think of the war today, we panic and try to come up with some sort of strategy. However, the people in Montags society could care less about the war. This sort of carelessness is what started the war in the first place. Montags society is living carefree in the world, while everywhere else people are dying of poverty. Basically their lack of concern for others leads to their physical downfall.
As said before, the society in which Montag lives didnt care about the war so much or even the people who were dying during it. He said, if I get killed off, you just go right ahead and dont cry, but get married again, and dont think of me (page 95). This quote was said by Mrs. Phelps and it elucidates that people didnt care others. If someone dies, you just had to move on with your life.
The apathy illustrated in this society implies a huge impact on the societys decline. Since the value of life was very little, the population in the society was decreasing. Obviously, if the population keeps decreasing, eventually there wont be enough people living for the society to be successful. Overall, the rapid death rate displays a plausible explanation for the societys fall.
People were dying everyday and no one seemed to care about them. Funerals are unhappy and pagan? Eliminate them, tooLets not quibble over individuals with memories. Forget them (page 60). This quote was said by Captain Beatty and it presents the apathy shown by the society for the dead. Just about everyone in society drove cars at rapid speed. This resulted in two things: either the car rode off a cliff or it ran over someone.
While trying to run away from the police by crossing the road, Montag faced a near death experience. A car on the street almost ran into Montag and then deliberately came back again (after crossing him) to run him over. They would have killed me, thought Montag..For no reason at all in the world they would have killed me (page 128). In this society, this example of apathy depicts that they didnt think or see death as a tragedy, but rather as a joke or a game.
Not only did this society lack compassion for others, but the people also lacked compassion for themselves. Montags societys tried to portray the image that they were all happy, but their happiness was rather hollow and empty. For if they were really happy with their lives, why did most of them try to commit suicide attempts every night. We get these cases nine or ten a night (page 15). This was said by one of the operators. This shows that since they wanted to die, they obviously didnt care about themselves either. People who try to commit suicide are usually unhappy with their lives and depressed. If a persons living a happy life, filled with anything they can ever, wanting to end it is seriously doubtful.
The societys apathy not only affects their present but also their future. Mothers lack concern for their kids, who are tomorrows future. At one point in Fahrenheit 451, Mildred and her friends have a discussion on children (page 96). Mrs. Phelps argues that children are a pain and she shouldnt have to deal with them. Mrs. Bowles on the other hand says that the race must go on and people should reproduce. I plunk the kids in school nine out of ten days. I put up with them with they come home three days a month.You heave them into the parlor and turn on the switch. Its like washing clothes (page 96). This quote displays that Mrs. Bowles, along with many other women in that society, paid no attention to children and treated them like they were a burden. Not giving any compassion to the children in the society was a big decline in the society because it displays a selfish act.
The essential decline in Montags society was their lack of knowledge. Instead of putting out fires, in Fahrenheit 451, the firemen started fires by burning books. As most people know, knowledge is power, and where do you get this knowledge from? Of course, the answer is books. By destroying their books, the firemen destroyed their ability to learn more knowledge and prevent mistakes that occurred in the past.
The main reason why books were banned in Montags society was because books, at least the really good ones, make you feel a certain way. People react differently to books; some people cry while others smile. These different reactions are what terrified the government who wanted the society to be perfect, meaning everything and everyone had to be basically monotonous. In their fear of letting people have sympathy and compassion for others, the society gave up their ability to gain knowledge.
Overall, by portraying many figures who never even wonder about their lot in life, Fahrenheit 451 seems to imply that apathy is a very important element in the decline of Montags society. The members of the society were lacking sympathy towards others and themselves. These feelings of apathy started wars and led to an excessive amount of deaths.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. (1953). New York; Ballantine Books, 1998