Montage and his crew raid homes and burn books, along with the respective house. Contrary o this destruction, happiness remains the central importance in this future world. However, Montage is unhappy with his life for most of the book. He just refuses to acknowledge that fact. Montage’s unhappiness is ironic until his self- awareness turns it tragic. The ideal of this future man is to be happy. That is all desired. “That’s all we live for, sin it it? For pleasure, for titillation? “(65). The people of this world only want to be happy.
They don’t care about anything else, such as politics or the economy. At the beginning of the book, Montage appears happy. The text describes him burning a house while thoroughly enjoying himself. At one point, he thinks, “It was a pleasure to burn” (19). A little later, he thinks “he would feel the fiery smile still gripped by his face muscles, in the dark” (19). It seems that he believes his happiness exists. After the house is burned, Montage begins to walk home and is met by a young girl named Claries McClellan. Claries first brings thoughts of uncertainty to Montage.
She begins an irrevocTABLE chain of events simply by asking Montage a simple question: “Are you happy? ” (24). When Claries leaves, Montage contemplates their conversation. “pappy! Of all the nonsense. ” Of ours I’m happy. What does she think? I’m not? ‘ he [silently] asked” (24). An almost self-denial is evident in his own thought process. His brainwashed brain cannot even decide where his emotions lie. When he returns home and enters the bedroom, he realizes he is not happy. “He felt his smile slide away, melt, fold over… He was not happy…
He wore his happiness like a mask.. ” (26). He finally becomes aware of his unhappiness. Until this point, he has faked his happiness. Now, his happiness switches from ironic to tragic because of his awareness of discontentment. But, he remains lost as to how o keep his physical life synonymous with his emotions. His empty marriage adds to his frustrations as well. When his wife overdoses on sleeping pills, he calls the hospital; but instead of sending a doctor, they send two men in reddish-brown coveralls accompanied by two machines.
They use these machines to pump her stomach to replace her blood. After the machine operators leave, he thinks, “If only [they could give her] someone else’s flesh and brain and memory. If only they could have taken her mind along to the dry cleaner’s and emptied the pockets and steamed and cleansed it and re- locked it and brought it back in the morning” (30). He wishes his wife could somehow change to abolish the hollowness. His ironic unhappiness once again turns tragic. Montage decides to start reading books.
He goes to his cache of books he has been stealing, picks one, and begins to read. Confused with the reading, he goes to see Professor Faber, a retired English professor he had met the year before. Montage and F-Baber decide to attempt an overthrow of their society by planting books in other fireman’s houses and turning in the alarms. The law eventually catches up with Montage forcing him to escape to the country, here he finds a small group of people. This group belongs to a loose network of individuals who share a common goal: overthrow society and bring back literature.
They believe that books represent more than words. Books are a multi-dimensional phenomenon that incorporates history with personality. The knowledge has been passed down through the generations expressing ideas and theories read and studied by millions upon millions of people. The destruction of books leads to a strained and oppressive society, as shown in this book. Once Montage finds the knowledge, he finds his freedom. And there, the irony and tragedy meet.