How are people affected by television and the lack of books in Fahrenheit 451?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Having only one government-approved form of entertainment -- television -- people in the future society have little individuality and almost no ambition. Clarisse points out that conversations are repetitious, containing lots of brand names and items, but no substance. People don't even understand the concept of story anymore; the TV programming is meaningless conversational words without any larger purpose:

"They write the script with one part missing. It's a new idea. The home-maker, that's me, is the missing part."


"What's the play about?"

"I just told you. There are these people named Bob and Ruth and Helen."

(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

The result is that people are mentally exhausted without knowing why; they have nothing to exercise their minds and so have no understanding of the wider world. Mildred, Montag's wife, is so obsessed with her television programs that she considers them her family; she keeps them on all the time, not even caring what is happening, just that there is something out there larger than herself. People are apathetic towards politics; an impending war that will wipe out the city is ignored in favor of an "exciting" chase. Without intellectual stimulation, and with all entertainment force-fed by the government, people lose their drive to create or succeed, and instead just live with no purpose.