What are ten things that symbolize Mildred in Fahrenheit 451?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mildred represents the kind of typical member of society that the government wants. She can read, but doesn't understand difficult or profound texts, and she is a true hedonist. The government wants everyone to be so caught up in entertaining themselves that they are distracted from the real, difficult questions in life. There are several things Mildred has or does that symbolize the society's hedonist lifestyle. Here is a quick list:

1. Sleeping pills to avoid life: Montag stumbles onto an empty bottle of his wife's sleeping pills one night after work and remembers that it was full when he had left. Since Mildred represents the typical member of this society, it can be assumed that everyone has sleeping pills.

2. The stomach-pumping machine: It is used to revive her after she takes a whole bottle of pills. Machine operators come to pump people's stomachs rather than doctors because, as the operator tells Montag, "We get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many, starting a few years ago, we had the special machines built. . . . You don't need an M.D." (15).

3. Her bed: Mildred is always in bed when Montag comes home from work. Her life revolves around her parlor shows, the kitchen, and her bed. She does not have a job.

4. The Parlor Walls: These are TVs that play shows that are not unlike soap operas. No one ever really knows what the plot of the show is, but it continues every day. The trend is to get a TV wall for each of the four walls in a parlor. This way, the person can be completely surrounded by the shows and block out real life.

5. The Script: Mildred has a script for the TV show that she watches. The technology is programmed to include the audience in the show so they feel as if they are a part of it. This sucks audiences even deeper into life-like distraction.

6. The Seashells: These are "thimble radios tamped tight" in her ears that send music, ocean sounds, or anything else that is transmitted by radio frequency (12). Mildred uses these as yet another distraction from life.

7. Her Beetle: This is the car in which she drives so fast she can accelerate her cares away. She takes her aggression and frustration out on the road. Sometimes people get killed because drivers only care about how fast they are driving, not about anyone else. Mildred says, "Sometimes I drive all night and come back and you don't know it. It's fun out in the country. You hit rabbits, sometimes you hit dogs" (64).

8.  Two-thousand dollars: This is the cost of a TV wall for the parlor. Mildred wants a fourth TV to complete her set, but Montag just got her the third one recently and they each cost the same as one third of his yearly pay.

9. The phone: Mildred uses it to call the authorities to report that her husband has books. This is what everyone in the community does in order to keep books out of their society. 

10. The atomic bomb: Mildred is blown to bits with the rest of the city when the bomb hits. It's as if she was already headed for destruction by the way she was living.