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.