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

Expert Answers info

Hollis Sanders eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2019

write751 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

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.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write9,170 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

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 television actors as her real family, which emphasizes her superficial, shallow nature. Sadly, Mildred feels closer to the family on the television show than she does to Montag.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

kmj23 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write2,256 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

In Fahrenheit 451, the parlor walls are a form of entertainment that most people have inside their homes. Specifically, they are television screens which cover the surface of an entire wall, and we know from Part One of Fahrenheit 451 that Mildred and Montag have three parlor walls installed in their living room. Once the walls are turned on, they "bombard" the viewer with loud music and bright colors. The walls also play shows featuring the "family." These shows, often based on plays or comedies, feature recurrent and recognizable characters, like the White Clown, and are interactive. Mildred, for example, loves to take part in shows with the family and, in Part One, is learning a script for a forthcoming play. 

For people like Mildred, the walls and the family have become part of everyday life. She is absorbed in this form of entertainment to the point that she is completely ignorant of the world around her and its problems.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

schulzie eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write572 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

The wall is a wall-to-wall circuit TV they have installed in their parlor.  Mildred is obsessed with it.  She had the TV installed on three walls, but she wants a fourth wall installed also.  Mildred is interacting with the people on the walls.

"It's really fun.  It'll even be more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed." (pg 20)

The family are the characters in the walls that interact with Mildred.  They are the uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews that lived in those walls. Basically, they are TV characters. Montag had

"....taken to calling them relatives from the very first. " (pg 45)

The walls are one controlling factor of the people.  People no longer read, so they watch television, and they are given a script on how to interact with it.  They are told what to think and say, and the characters become real in their lives.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial