Value Through Happiness

Becky and Chow

"What a person values depends on how happiness and emotions are perceived."


In this presentation we are going to be looking at how a persons' values change depending on what they think happiness is. Throughout the book there are several contrasting opinions of what happiness is between the characters, therefore causing them to appreciate and care about different things. We are going to be revealing some of the characters' opinions and values by looking at different passages from Fahrenheit 451 and understanding the reasons that Bradbury had for writing them.


Scenario 1: Clarisse

"'I rarely watch the parlor walls or go to races or fun parks... Have you seen the two-hundred-foot-long billboards in the country beyond town? Did you know that once billboards were only twenty feet long?' When they reached her house all it's lights were blazing.

'Whats going on?' Montag had rarely seen that many house lights.

'Oh, just my mother and father and uncle sitting around , talking'

'But what do you talk about?'

"'Are you happy?'... ...Of course I'm happy. What does she think? I'm not?" (Bradbury 10).

The passage above is an excerpt from a conversation between Montag and 17-year-old Clarrise, his new neighbor. During the conversation Clarrisse reveals a lot about her personality and values. She is obviously very curious about life and values knowledge. The reader can also tell that she values her family when she tells Montag that she has actual conversations with them in her free time, which was shocking to Montag. Bradbury wanted these two to have this conversation so Montag is forced to think about the things that he does (or does not) value. He is also asked by Clarrisse if he is happy. At first he thinks that this is an outrageous question but after he thinks about it for a second, is he truly happy?

Scenario 2: Mildred

"'When did we meet? And where?... ...'I mean-- originally'... ...He clarified it. 'The first time we ever met, where was it, and when?'... ...'I don't know,' she said." (Bradbury 42-43).

Here in these lines, Mildred and Guy are having a conversation and when Guy asks when and where they met, they realize that they do not remember. Mildred and Guy are a married couple and are supposed to be in love, but they do not remember a thing. Bradbury is trying to show how emotions are what make an event memorable and this false happiness state all things are done in make true happiness buried and forgotten. The happiness no longer stand out from the rest of life and therefore becomes ordinary.

Scenario 3: Beatty

"...It didn't come from the Government down." (Bradbury 58).

"...We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal." (Bradbury 58).

This passage is a representation of Beatty's opinion of what happiness is. He does not agree that all men are born equal. He believes that they have to be MADE equal and that this is the only way that the society can be truly happy. Bradbury wanted to include this to show the reader the contrasting opinions and values of the different characters. For example we now know that captain Beatty values equality while Clarisse values individuality as we read before.

Scenario 4: Mrs. Phelps

"Mrs. Phelps was crying... ...'You see? I knew it, that's what I wanted to prove! I knew it would happen! I've always said poetry and tears, poetry and suicide and crying and awful feelings, poetry and sickness'... ...'Why do people want to hurt people?" (Bradbury 100-101).

The lines above show how one of the regular people felt toward books and poetry. Her name was Mrs. Phelps and the author included this part to show the reaction of the non-firefighters. She had a strong dislike for books and poems and broke down when a poem about doing something meaningful was read to her. It pulled her out of the fake happiness she felt and helped her see her goal of being remembered again so it was not forgotten.

Scenario 5: Granger

"'Nothing. I thought I had part of the Book of Ecclesiastes and maybe a little Revelation, but I haven't even that now.'

'The Book of Ecclesiastes would be fine'... ...'Ah.' Granger smiled and nodded." (Bradbury 150-151).

Here in the passage, Guy Montag is speaking with Granger and talks about how the only way Ecclesiastes and other books could be preserved would be through memorizations. The author placed this here to show how grave the situation had gotten. Even though the situation was not ideal, the author made certain you also saw there was hope. Guy was distressed when he could not remember, but it was possible to see he was feeling emotions strongly again.

Discussion Questions

1. In the book, Beatty talks about how we can't all be truly happy if we aren't all equal and value the same things. (or more specifically, NOT value books) Why do you think that he and so many other people think that not having a love for books will make everybody so much more happy?

2. What do the people in this society value and why? Do you think that the people are genuinely happy? What are they feeling?

3. Do you think the way Montag's society is was taken way to the extreme? In the book, Montag's wife attempts suicide by overdosing. Another women commits suicide by burning herself. Montag's wife detests books and the other woman absolutely loves her books yet they both wanted to end their own life. Obviously there are two sides to banning/burning books.

4. What is the true source of unhappiness in this society? Captain Beatty says that firemen and most other people in their society are against the people who "want to make everybody unhappy with their conflicting theory and thought." But if there are no people like that anymore then why is everybody still so unhappy?

5. Do you think it is better for a society to be all completely equal and share the same values but not have any feelings of real joy and happiness? Or is it better for people to value whatever they like and be on all different levels of happiness or sadness?