How does technology influence conformity in Fahrenheit 451?

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lusie0520 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of ways technology influences conformity in Fahrenheit 451.  One of the most obvious is the seashell radio, which Mildred listens to as she is sleeping. “And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind...”  The sounds of the radio help Mildred ignore the things in her society that make her uncomfortable.  The television wall is also a good example.  People like Mildred become invested in the fake world and the fake “family” they see there; this makes them less likely to worry about their own family and the problems they see in their own world.

The mechanical hound is another technological marvel that enforces conformity.  Montag is a fireman, but he is afraid of the hound, which seems to know that there is something not quite right about Montag.  “It was half across the lawn, coming from the shadows, moving with such drifting ease that it was like a single solid cloud of black-grey smoke blown at him in silence. It made a single last leap into the air, coming down at Montag from a good three feet over his head, its spidered legs reaching, the procaine needle snapping out its single angry tooth.”  The hound is a threat to those in the society who choose not to conform.  Montag fears the hound because he is searching for answers; he cannot accept society as it is and “go along to get along.”

The Salamander, of course, is also a way that technology influences conformity.  It is the symbol of the firemen, who come for those who are courageous enough to have ideas.  When the Salamander races to its destination, it makes a point to all who are watching: conform or die.

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Fahrenheit 451

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