In "Fahrenheit 451" why are the characters on television called "the family"?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is Montag that jokingly calls Mildred's t.v. walls the family.  The book states that "he had taken to calling them relatives from the very first."  This naming that Montag gives them is a very incisive insight into their society.  The t.v. walls are interactive, so people can actually interact with the characters like they are real human beings. As a result, one can imagine that you might become "close" to them, like a family. In a sense, they replace the "real" family unit in this society. Kids are sent to school at a very young age, and if Montag and Mildred's relationship is any indicator of familial happiness, the happy family in this society is an endangered species. Instead, Mildred and all of her pals connect and interact with the t.v. characters. In fact, Mildred has become so close to her t.v. "family" that as she is exiting her burning house, she brushes right by Montag-her real family-fretting, "Poor family, poor family, oh everything gone" (114). She is in mourning over her t.v. being torched, and unconcerned about her husband.