Aim: How does an author’s description and word choice create a mood for the reader?
“Happy! Of all the nonsense.”
He stopped laughing.
He put his hand into the glove-hole of his front door and let it know his touch. The
front door slid open.
Of course I’m happy. What does she think? I’m not? he asked the quiet rooms. He
stood looking up at the ventilator grille in the hall and suddenly remembered that
something lay hidden behind the grille, something that seemed to peer down at him
now. He moved his eyes quickly away.
What a strange meeting on a strange night. He remembered nothing like it save one
afternoon a year ago when he had met an old man in the park and they had talked ….
Montag shook his head. He looked at a blank wall. The girl’s face was there, really
quite beautiful in memory: astonishing, in fact. She had a very thin face like the dial of
a small clock seen faintly in a dark room in the middle of a night when you waken to
see the time and see the clock telling you the hour and the minute and the second,
with a white silence and a glowing, all certainty and knowing what it has to tell of the
night passing swiftly on toward further darknesses but moving also toward a new
“What?” asked Montag of that other self, the subconscious idiot that ran babbling at
times, quite independent of will, habit, and conscience.
He glanced back at the wall. How like a mirror, too, her face. Impossible; for how
many people did you know that refracted your own light to you? People were more
often-he searched for a simile, found one in his work-torches, blazing away until they
whiffed out. How rarely did other people’s faces take of you and throw back to you
your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought?
What incredible power of identification the girl had; she was like the eager watcher of
a marionette show, anticipating each flicker of an eyelid, each gesture of his hand,
each flick of a finger, the moment before it began. How long had they walked
together? Three minutes? Five? Yet how large that time seemed now. How immense
a figure she was on the stage before him; what a shadow she threw on the wall with her slender body! He felt that if his eye itched, she might blink. And if the muscles of
his jaws stretched imperceptibly, she would yawn long before he would.
Why, he thought, now that I think of it, she almost seemed to be waiting for me there,
in the street, so damned late at night … .
He opened the bedroom door.
It was like coming into the cold marbled room of a mausoleum after the moon had
set. Complete darkness, not a hint of the silver world outside, the windows tightly
shut, the chamber a tomb-world where no sound from the great city could penetrate.
The room was not empty.
The little mosquito-delicate dancing hum in the air, the electrical murmur of a hidden
wasp snug in its special pink warm nest. The music was almost loud enough so he
could follow the tune.
He felt his smile slide away, melt, fold over, and down on itself like a tallow skin, like
the stuff of a fantastic candle burning too long and now collapsing and now blown
out. Darkness. He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself.
He recognized this as the true state of affairs. He wore his happiness like a mask and
the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to
knock on her door and ask for it back.
Without turning on the light he imagined how this room would look. His wife stretched
on the bed, uncovered and cold, like a body displayed on the lid of a tomb, her eyes
fixed to the ceiling by invisible threads of steel, immovable. And in her ears the little
Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of
music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her
unsleeping mind. The room was indeed empty. Every night the waves came in and
bore her off on their great tides of sound, floating her, wide-eyed, toward morning.
There had been no night in the last two years that Mildred had not swum that sea,
had not gladly gone down in it for the third time.
The room was cold but nonetheless he felt he could not breathe. He did not wish to
open the curtains and open the french windows, for he did not want the moon to
come into the room. So, with the feeling of a man who will die in the next hour for
lack of air,.he felt his way toward his open, separate, and therefore cold bed.
An instant before his foot hit the object on the floor he knew he would hit such an
object. It was not unlike the feeling he had experienced before turning the corner and
almost knocking the girl down. His foot, sending vibrations ahead, received back
echoes of the small barrier across its path even as the foot swung. His foot kicked.
The object gave a dull clink and slid off in darkness.
He stood very straight and listened to the person on the dark bed in the completely
featureless night. The breath coming out of the nostrils was so faint it stirred only the
furthest fringes of life, a small leaf, a black feather, a single fibre of hair.
He still did not want outside light. He pulled out his igniter, felt the salamander etched
on its silver disc, gave it a flick….
Two moonstones looked up at him in the light of his small hand-held fire; two pale
moonstones buried in a creek of clear water over which the life of the world ran, not
“Mildred ! ”
Her face was like a snow-covered island upon which rain might fall; but it felt no rain;
over which clouds might pass their moving shadows, but she felt no shadow. There
was only the singing of the thimble-wasps in her tamped-shut ears, and her eyes all
glass, and breath going in and out, softly, faintly, in and out of her nostrils, and her
not caring whether it came or went, went or came. The object he had sent tumbling with his foot now glinted under the edge of his own
bed. The small crystal bottle of sleeping-tablets which earlier today had been filled
with thirty capsules and which now lay uncapped and empty in the light of the tiny
As he stood there the sky over the house screamed. There was a tremendous ripping
sound as if two giant hands had torn ten thousand miles of black linen down the
seam. Montag was cut in half. He felt his chest chopped down and split apart. The
jet-bombs going over, going over, going over, one two, one two, one two, six of them,
nine of them, twelve of them, one and one and one and another and another and
another, did all the screaming for him. He opened his own mouth and let their shriek
come down and out between his bared teeth. The house shook. The flare went out in
his hand. The moonstones vanished. He felt his hand plunge toward the telephone.
The jets were gone. He felt his lips move, brushing the mouthpiece of the phone.
“Emergency hospital.” A terrible whisper.
He felt that the stars had been pulverized by the sound of the black jets and that in
the morning the earth would be thought as he stood shivering in the dark, and let his
lips go on moving and moving.