Materialism In Fahrenheit 451

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"Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body" (George Carlin). Comedian, social critic, and author George Carlin's words may seem laughable, but his underlying point rings true for our society today: fulfillment does not lie in material possessions. This idea of materialism appears in several pieces of literature, including Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451 features a 30-year-old "firefighter" named Guy Montag, who lives in a futuristic society revolving around technology such as wall-sized TV's and "seashell" radios. Though conscious of his luxurious lifestyle, and how fortunate he must be, he comes to the conclusion that constant self-indulgence leads…show more content…
When people saturate their lives with excess belongings in hopes of filling a void, they end up feeling even more empty. In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag contemplates the problem in his society. "We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren't happy. Something's missing" (Bradbury 2.127). Montag finds himself surrounded with all sorts of entertainment, yet unsatisfied with his life, showing materialism does not solve any problems. Those who depend on possessions to feel validated also waste their time consumed with vain imaginations. Winston's rebellious girlfriend, Julia, in 1984 longs to dress like a real woman saying, "I'm going to get hold of a real woman's frock from somewhere and wear it instead of these bloody trousers. I'll wear silk stockings and high-heeled shoes! I'm going to be a woman..." (Orwell 2.149). She expects clothing to make her feel better about herself, but the truth remains that dwelling on this belief will only create a loop of discontentment. Similarly, today's society expects positive things to come from self-indulgence, but this idealism backfires regardless of one's social class. A study by the National Academy of Sciences explores the negative effects of materialism on people through behavioral tests of upper-class citizens versus lower-class citizens when it came to stealing, lying, cheating, etc. "Data from the study demonstrated that upper-class individuals' unethical tendencies were partially accounted for by their more favorable attitudes toward greed" (Oliver). This confirms that one's tendency toward consumerism can lead to greediness and increased poor decision-making. Rather than bringing fulfillment, materialism instead results in exactly the
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