Fahrenheit 451

by: Ray Bradbury

Technology

1

The converter attachment, which had cost them one hundred dollars, automatically supplied her name whenever the announcer addressed his anonymous audience, leaving a blank where the proper syllables could be filled in.

This excerpt is from Montag’s point of view as he observes his wife Mildred watching television in the parlor. He occasionally hears an announcer saying “Mrs. Montag.” However, we learn that the announcer is not actually talking directly to her. The Montags had purchased an attachment for the television that fills in the names of the people living in the home. This detail is an example of how the characters prefer to use technology that enables them to think of an actor on the television as “a good friend” rather than to make real human connections.

2

He saw her leaning toward the great shimmering walls of color and motion where the family talked and talked and talked to her, where the family prattled and chatted and said her name and smiled at her and said nothing of the bomb that was an inch, now a half inch, now a quarter inch from the top of the hotel.

Montag pictures this scene in “Burning Bright” as bombs fall on the city. He imagines what Mildred is doing at that moment, which is most likely watching television, oblivious to the bombs that are about to kill her. He calls the people on the television “the family,” using Mildred’s term for the fake people she thinks of as her family instead of Montag. While Montag is thinking specifically of Mildred, the same could be true of many people in this society, who value technology and entertainment over their own lives.

3

Abruptly the room took off on a rocket flight into the clouds; it plunged into a lime-green sea where blue fish at red and yellow fish. A minute later, three White Cartoon Clowns chopped off each other’s limbs to the accompaniment of immense incoming tides of laughter. Two minutes more and the room whipped out of town to the jet cars wildly circling an arena, bashing and backing up and bashing each other again. Montag saw a number of bodies fly in the air.

Montag describes this scene when Mildred’s friends come over to watch television. This occurs shortly after Montag meets with Faber and comes up with a plan for printing books. For the first time since Montag became curious about reading, he observes Mildred and her friends watching television. Montag’s description allows us to understand the sort of entertainment people consume in this world due to the all-pervasive technology: It is frivolous, absurd, violent, and frenetic. During this scene, Montag begins to feel disgust for the people that unthinkingly use this continuous diversion.