Ever since the holocaust, schools around the United States and Europe students are taught a whole unit of genocide. This unit is implanted to teach the children what has happened in the past to prevent history from repeating itself. The motto they teach by is, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat It.” -George Santayana. Now that children are aware of genocide will they act on what they learn? Or does history repeat naturally no matter if you learn it or not? In Ray Bradbury’s, Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag is forced to help rebuild a new society after one that crumbled. This society wanted to make everyone equally happy, however, in doing so they had unintended consequences that eventually led to the society self-destructing.
This society collapsed because they burned through all components of time, the past, the present, and the future. This society started burning the past when they decided to eliminate controversy. In doing so the schools had to stop teaching liberal arts (55), and the society had to burn books (58). They did this upon themselves without a source of government, in the belief that without controversy everyone must be happy. However without learning about the past in schools and burning all evidence of the past, the past itself is burned down. Burning through the past led to the burning of the present. The present started to speed up because technology became much faster and more apparent (54). Also, transportation became faster and also became an entertainment. To get places the citizens used an air train that just whips through the city (4), or they used cars that had faster engines. With these cars people drove them fast to blow off steam like Mildred says when talking to Montag about blowing off steam, “The keys to the beetle are on the night table. I always like to drive fast when I feel that way. You get it up around ninety-five and you feel wonderful” (68).
Making technology and transportation a fast entertainment the future kept zipping by creating more time. Instead of civilians using this extra time wisely all they did was merely sleep which requires zero thinking or feeling. Since time is just being sped through and all time not sped through is wasted sleeping the present no longer exists. The easiest way for a society to collapse on its self is not having a future, without a future society cannot survive. Since love is not felt there are no more kids being produced, but the kids that are in society are ruined because of the drastic and detrimental changes to their education system (55), and general bad parenting because there is no affection toward the kids ,The children are just as selfish and ignorant as their parents and is shown by the kids driving just as recklessly as everyone else zooming past over 140 mph killing anyone and everyone in its past (137). Since kids are not beneficiary to society there is no future. Burning through time and making everyone equally happy made society corrupt and had many unfortunate consequences considering not everyone can be happy.
Everyone lost their uniqueness and individuality due to the fact everyone must be equal. There are two things that tend to make people individuals, their intellectual thoughts and attitudes and their life style. Intellectual thoughts and attitudes were lost when society decided to get rid of front porches because, “that was the wrong kind of social life. People talked too much. And they had time to think” (22). For everyone to be happy they couldn’t have this bad social life so they each had the same intellectual thought and the same attitude making everyone the same person. Also, Everyone’s life style became robotic and just went through a daily routine wasting days and days. In the beginning Montag is described doing the exact thing everyday and not realizing days have gone by (4). Since nothing different happened everyday all days were the same. The lack of being able to problem solve is an accidental side effect of making everyone happy. Each person saw each other, and it was like looking into a mirror.
Everyone looked happy, until they went home, realized they were, in fact, miserable people. Instead of trying to deal with this problem of depression they could not cope with it and instead try to kill themselves like Mildred did by trying to overdose by taking too many pills (14). This is not abnormal in this society because the men that pump her stomach receiver 10-20 calls a night (15). The only feeling this society wanted people to achieve was happiness however in doing so they loss all other emotions and feelings including love. Love is not expressed by the normal citizen, Clarisse, who is already an outsider, shows love when she rubs the dandelion underneath her chin and the seeds rub off (21). However, when she hands a dandelion over to Montag, who has a wife, the flower does not rub off showing there is no affection in his life. Although this society only intention was to make everyone happy, it completely failed on them because citizens are now depressed clones.
At the very beginning of the book Montag is already an outsider by just walking home while everyone else speeds in their car or takes the air train (4). By doing this it is implementing Montags mind with the ability to slow down and think. The normal citizen speeds through life not thinking or ever slowing down. Montag doesn’t realize how capable his mind is until Clarisse informs him of what other views there are in the world. Clarisse realizes Montag is different when she asks him about the moon and he looks at it, when everyone else she asks can care less or can’t comprehend what she is saying (23). Montag quickly realizes what society has become and looks to come out of it. His first step was when he stole the books and kept them (68). Throughout the story Montag does keep one book with him most of the time and that is the bible. The bible talks about, in the new testament, how a society once lost all faith and one man named Jesus Christ try teach everyone what to believe in. That is what Montag is trying do with this society in Fahrenheit 451. Montag, like Jesus, realizes that society is in the gutter and is his job to reclaim the seeds of this dead society.
He starts to learn the past from what professors have told him and from original scriptures. When the atomic bomb finally obliterates the society Montag puts it upon himself to rebuild society how it should be and make it so this never happens again. Granger in the end of the book speaks about how society is a phoenix that burns itself up and then rises out of its ashes over and over again (163). This society is phoenix that burned itself however it needs someone to rise over the ashes. Montag is the only person that can do this to society because he lived in the society when he was part of the norm and he lived in it when he was an outsider unlike Faber, Granger, and the rest of the foresters did. Montag is the only man that could’ve reclaimed the seeds in society as soon as he turned the corner walking on the street to stop and think (4). Montag knows the fact that his society must teach the past because, “There is no future without a past, because what is to be cannot be imagined except as a form of repetition.” -Siri Hustvedt