The symbol of the mechanical Hound in the novel plays a major role in helping the readers to view the setting as a dystopian society with a major influence of futuristic technology. The mechanical Hound represents the manipulation and use of technology to control people. The Hound acts as a robot made up of various elements giving him the ability to track down victims by smelling their odor. The Hound is master minded by a central command for rapid deployment and near perfect accuracy.
Early in the novel the mechanical Hound growls at Montag on two occasions inciting great fear in him. “The Hound half rose in its kennel and looked at him with green-blue neon light flickering in its suddenly actvivated eye bulbs. It growled again, a strange rasping combination of electrical sizzle, a frying sound, a scraping of metal, a turning of cogs that seemed rusty and ancient with suspicion.” (page 23) When Montag discusses his fear of the Hound and his impression that it doesn’t like him with Captain Beatty, he questions Montag on whether he has a guilty conscience. This is a foreshadowing of Beatty’s suspicion that Montag is hiding something. “Hell! It’s a fine bit of craftsmanship, a good rifle that can fetch its own target and guarantees the bull’s-eye every time.” “That’s why,” said Montag, “I wouldn’t want to be its next victim.” “Why? You got a guilty conscience about something?” (page 25) The Hound is programmed to hunt and find and kill. In this dystopian society this technology controls people through its menacing threat towards their lives.
The symbolism of the mechanical Hound is very important throughout the novel. It is one more depiction of how the dystopian society is controlled by fear of death and destruction if rules are not obeyed and censorship honored.
In typical societies rescue animals in police and fire stations are trained to protect, rescue and save people. Ironically, in this novel the robotic dogs are trained to memorize scents and to target and track down citizens to kill them if they do not conform.
Overall, the symbolism of the mechanical Hound throughout the novel helps us to view the society in which the novel is set as a dystopia structured around government control and manipulation of technology monitoring the rules of the society and taking away freedom and choice from citizens.