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Ray Bradbury’s satire, Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury’s satire, Fahrenheit 451, is a novel full of symbols criticizing the modern world. Among those symbols appears The Hound. The Hound’s actions and even its shape are reflections of the society Bradbury has predicted to come. Montag’s world continues on without thought; without any real reason. There is no learning, no growth, and no purpose. “The Mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in the dark corner of the firehouse” (24), wrote Bradbury to describe this hound.

Like the hound, society was alive yet dead as well, drudging through life; mindless. The Hound was a programmed robot that didn’t thing on its own; that only acted as it was told. Captain Beatty states, “It just ‘functions’. It has a trajectory we decide on for it. It follows through. It targets itself, homes itself, and cuts off. Its only copper wire, storage batteries, and electricity” (20), and “It doesn’t think anything we don’t want it to think” (27). That society was programmed to not think, wonder or ask why. They didn’t do anything that they weren’t supposed to do. Today, everything is happening just as The Hound is controlled.

Programming is happening in our very world. Take schools for example. Consider Pavlov’s experiment with ringing bells to provoke an automatic response in dogs. He rang a bell; the dogs salivated expecting food. The school board rings a bell, and students rise to show respect for the American flag because ‘now is the designated time to be patriotic, and you will or face consequences”. The bell rings, students stand. The bell rings, the students sit, the student walks, the student is allowed to eat. We’re robots in the programmed society. The perversion of Montag’s society was eminent in the appearance of the Mechanical Hound.

A ‘hound’ with “eight spidery legs”, a metal body and electrical eyes is far from just short of a normal dog. As it was with The Hound, society was far from normal. The society was strange, backward and totally abnormal. There was no compassion for life as Mildred makes apparent by stating “It’s fun out in the country. You hit rabbits, sometimes you hit dogs. Go take the beetle” (64). Here Mildred tells Montag to take the car out and hit animals to relieve stress and anxiety. Schools no longer teach core subjects, only sports and ‘fun’ things. Bradbury’s society hasn’t the time, nor the desire, to actually learn or better themselves.

Society is perverted. Today, the computer games, television programs, and other such entertainment possesses more attention than family members, creating a void where once lay family value, and important family time. Therefore, more often than not, that void is filled with harmful, unmoral behavior, much like that behavior demonstrated in Bradbury’s novel when some teenagers were intentionally trying to run him over with their car. Is this normal? Unfortunately, it is becoming exactly that. In this society Bradbury created, you are pampered, entertained and kept completely happy with no worries; nothing to fear.

However, the quest for happiness ultimately leads to the downfall. All communication to the ‘disturbing’ outside world was cut off as to protect the citizens from having to worry. The people were oblivious to the war raging outside, and the bomb that eventually killed them. The society lived in blind happiness. Paralleling this society is The Hound. When it attacks its victim, it injects lethal doses of morphine, causing the person to experience drowsiness and fall into a deep relaxing sleep, unaware that they will never wake up.

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