Who is Mildred's family in Fahrenheit 451?

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laurniko eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mildred's family is the characters in the television shows she watches on her parlour walls. They give her joy and distract her from what is happening in the world.

Montag is annoyed by his wife's feelings for the characters on the television. It was Montag himself who originally called them relatives. The narrator says:

Literally not just one, wall but, so far, three! And expensive, too! And the uncles, the aunts, the cousins, the nieces, the nephews, that lived in those walls, the gibbering pack of tree-apes that said nothing, nothing, nothing and said it loud, loud, loud. He had taken to calling them relatives from the very first.

Mildred shows her concern for her virtual family over that of her real husband when Montag is ill. He asks her to quiet the parlour walls to accommodate his illness, but she shows she has no interest in doing so:

"Will you turn the parlour off?" he asked.

"That's my family."

"Will you turn it off for a sick man?"

"I'll turn it down."

She went out of the room and did nothing to the parlour and came back. "Is that better?"


"That's my favourite programme," she said.

Mildred's desire to watch the goings-on of television characters outweighs her desire to help her sick husband feel comfortable. Montag is aware that she hasn't bothered to lower the volume and accepts it, which shows that he has accepted the lack of intimacy in their marriage. She replaces reality with a virtual world populated with people she cares for more than those in the real world. 

Later, when Montag has books in their house and shuts off the walls, Mildred is outraged. She explains that her family tells her things and gives her world color. When she realizes that Captain Beatty could burn the house down if he finds out about the books, one of her concerns is that her family—the people on the screens—will be burned along with the house and she will no longer be able to see them.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Fahrenheit 451, Montag's wife Mildred considers the characters on the three TV walls that surround her her family. Montag thinks, "Well, wasn't there a wall between him and Mildred...And the uncles, the aunts, the cousins, the nieces, the nephews, that lived in those walls, the gibbering pack of tree apes that said nothing...He had taken to calling them relatives from the very first" (page 44 in the Del Ray Edition, 1991). In other words, the characters on the wall present a literal and metaphorical wall between Montag and Mildred. 

The characters on the wall speak to Mildred, and she is always engrossed in their drama so that she pays very little attention to Montag or to the world around her. Montag thinks of his wife as "a little girl in a forest without trees" (page 44), which conveys that Mildred is very lost and disconnected from Montag. She lives her life watching TV, taking sleeping pills, or listening to music through inserts that look like seashells in her ears. Her intention, encouraged by the government and society around her, is to drown out reality so that she does not pay attention to anything real, only to her fictional relatives on the television screens. 

pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mildred Montag considers the characters on television to be her family.  She watches tv on her floor to ceiling three tv screens and the shows allows her to interact with the actors.

All she does is sit around and watch television all day.

parama9000 | Student

They are who she considers to be a family, which are the characters in the television.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

Mildred's Family is the characters that she watches on her TV.