In Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury offers a dark vision of twenty-first-century America. The novel portrays a society where rigid conformity is expected of all individuals, and where independent thought is highly suspect. Most members of this society seem to willingly embrace the opportunity to escape the burdens of individuality and intellectualism, but their unconscious frustration manifests itself in the violence that permeates their bleak world.
In Bradbury’s narrative, America has started and won two atomic wars since 1960. Suicide attempts and drug abuse are so commonplace that special machines that can be operated by “handymen” have been invented to treat drug overdoses. Carloads of young teen-agers speed along the highways and run over pedestrians for sport. Montag’s wife explains that she enjoys driving at ninety-five miles per hour in the country because “you hit rabbits, sometimes you hit dogs.” The firemen regularly unleash their vicious Mechanical Hound on chickens, cats, or rats, placing bets on which animal the Hound will kill first.