Fahrenheit 451 Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 book cover
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Describe the "wall" and the "family" in Fahrenheit 451.

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Hollis Sanders eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the world of Fahrenheit 451, the typical modern home designates entire walls to be occupied by enormous television monitors. The most popular programs played are loud, bombastic, and in some cases, interactive. One of the first things we notice about Mildred's character is her all-consuming preoccupation with these programs.

The "parlor walls" and "family" are the often interchangeable terms that represent the object of Mildred's obsession. When Montag is gaining his first notions of free thought and doubt toward the authoritarian complex, he becomes particularly resentful toward Mildred in regard to the value that she places on her "parlor family."

The parlor walls are, to some extent, responsible for Montag's expulsion from the city. In a rage, Montag reads "Dover Beach" to Mildred and her friends in an attempt to elicit any sort of higher emotion. It is implied that Mildred phones the authorities out of fear of losing her parlor walls because of Montag's seeming insanity.

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The parlor walls are massive, interactive televisions that take up the entire wall of a home. In Bradbury's dystopian society, the citizens are obsessed with meaningless entertainment and install massive television screens the size of entire walls in their homes. Montag's home has three parlor wall televisions, and Mildred spends the majority of her leisure time watching interactive television shows. The majority of shows displayed on the parlor walls are shallow, extremely loud, and violent. There are bright, fast-moving colors, massive explosions, and a myriad of senseless things happening during each show that keep the viewer engaged.

One of the interactive television shows includes a family. Viewers like Mildred follow along with the script and participate in the interactive program by reading lines at certain designated moments. The plots of the shows are depicted as meaningless and confusing, but Mildred finds them fascinating. Mildred even views the...

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