In "Fahrenheit 451", why doesn't Mrs. Phelps have children? How does Mrs. Bowles deal with her children?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs. Phelps says "children are one in his right mind...would have children".  She is completely self-centered, and having children would require sacrifice on her part that she is not prepared to give.  Mrs. Bowles, who is every bit as self-absorbed as Mrs. Phelps, thinks she has found a way to have children with a minimum amount of inconvenience, however.  She figures that "the world must reproduce", and that it is kind of "nice" when the children "look just like you". She herself has had two children, but even though her doctor assured her she would have no trouble birthing the babies naturally, she "insisted" that they be delivered by Caesarian section to spare herself "all the agony" of labor.  Mrs. Bowles avoids interacting with her children as much as possible, leaving them in school "nine days out of ten", and when they come home for three days a month she just sits them in front of the television, "heav(ing) them into the 'parlor' and turn(ing) the switch".  She says that raising children in this manner is similar to washing clothes - she simply "stuff(s) (them in like) laundry and slam(s) the lid".

There is no love or tenderness in the relationship Mrs. Bowles has with her children.  She says her children would "just as soon kick (her) as kiss (her)".  She is thankful that she "can (at least) kick back" (Section 2).

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Fahrenheit 451

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