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Why does Montag call the people on television "relatives" in Fahrenheit 451?

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user956850 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 25, 2013 at 2:05 AM via web

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Why does Montag call the people on television "relatives" in Fahrenheit 451?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 25, 2013 at 5:08 AM (Answer #1)

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The theme of technology in this novel is a very powerful one, and is a common theme in Bradbury's work. Not only does Bradbury argue very cogently that our dependence on mass media is incredibly negative, he also foresees the way that media will become so advanced that, in some ways, in the minds of those who watch it, it will become more real than life itself. This is certainly the case in this novel, where the parlour, with the immense, all consuming TV screens that are placed on three walls, show an insipid and endless programme of people who its viewers come to identify with so greatly that they call them their "relatives." Even characters such as Jesus Christ have been placed into this programme:

Christ is one of the ‘family’ now. I often wonder it God recognizes His own son the way we've dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He's a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystal and saccharine when he isn't making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshipper absolutely needs.

Every aspect of our culture today is placed into the mix and is subject to the terrifying power of media, even what we hold to be most sacred. The people on television are called relatives therefore because it highlights the way that, because of media, people have become so lonely that they feel more contact and closer to these fictional figures than they actually do to their own relatives and friends.

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