Literature Study GuidesFahrenheit 451Part 1 Mildred Overdoses Summary

Fahrenheit 451 | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Part 1 | Mildred Overdoses

Course Hero’s video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Part 1 | The Hearth and the Salamander (Mildred Overdoses) of Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451.

Fahrenheit 451 | Part 1 (Mildred Overdoses) : The Hearth and the Salamander | Summary

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Summary

As Montag goes home alone, he thinks about Clarisse's final question about whether he's happy. Although he concludes that of course he is happy, he remembers another disturbing talk, one he had about a year earlier with an older man in a park. He enters his home, still thinking about Clarisse so much that he imagines he sees her face projected on the walls. When Montag enters his bedroom, it is as cold and dark as a "mausoleum," and the only sign of life is a faint "mosquito delicate hum" of electronic music.

Montag finds his wife, Mildred, lying unconscious on the bed. An empty bottle beside the table had held 30 tablets earlier in the day: she has overdosed. As he realizes this, he hears the incredibly loud sound of jets flying over the house. When the noise ends, he calls the hospital. They send two technicians to pump Mildred's stomach and clean her blood. The technicians note that so many people overdose that special machines have been built solely for the purpose of detoxifying potential suicide victims. After they leave, Montag goes out into the night and overhears laughter and conversation coming from Clarisse's house. Once he returns, Montag feels as though he does not "know anything anymore," and he is so tense that he has to take a pill to sleep.

Analysis

Clarisse has prodded Montag to think about his life by asking, "Are you happy?" From this joyous intrusion into his daily routine, Montag goes to the "mausoleum" of his bedroom. Clarisse had been intensely and vitally alive; Mildred has drugged herself and is unconscious. If Montag had not come home, she likely would have died.

This society lacks empathy or compassion. When Montag calls for help, it isn't a doctor who answers. Two technicians who don't treat the call as an emergency arrive. They stand around smoking and gossiping while the machines pump Mildred's stomach and replace her poisoned blood with clean, new blood, as if they were swapping out parts of a car. After the technicians leave, Montag thinks about his own isolation. He thinks that there are too many people in the world so that they can't get to know one other. But Clarisse's family manages to connect with others, and Montag has made a connection to Clarisse. Isolation, he learns, is not permanent.

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