Futuristic Technology Symbolism | Parlor Walls

“Does your ‘family’ love you, love you very much, love you with all their heart and soul?” An awfully odd question in my opinion. Of course my family loves me very much; my real family that is. This question however, is directed towards Montag’s wife, whom interacts not with a ‘real’ family, but a virtual one that lies within the wall screens of their parlor.

The parlor walls in Ray Bradbury’s novel are extremely significant in the development of the censored society in which the novel takes place. The empty parlors that are present in many homes during this book are filled with screens that take up entire walls and project “fireworks” and “men in black velvet” and even provide alternate lives for the humans who use them.

At one point during the middle of the book, Montag shuts the parlor walls off and forces the women in the parlor (MIldred, Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowels) to have a conversation. I found this part really funny because the women had no idea how to ask questions or carry on a conversation. They try to talk about motherhood and the war (or at least what they know of it) but their talk resembles nothing of a true conversation. This is a perfect example of the ignorance that floods the village. Each person is so detached from one another due to their ‘families’, so invested in only what the government tells them that they have no knowledge of interaction or relationships.

The conversations we have nowadays resemble nothing of the one that was held between the women. We can still talk about family and global issues like intelligent persons however, the technology that has emerged throughout the years is strangely similar to the technology Bradbury describes in his novel. We do have things like Kinect for X-Box (similar to the interacting parlor walls). Noise canceling earphones that allow us to detach from reality (similar to the Seashell ear-thimbles). So if we aren’t careful with ourselves and how we interact, we might just end up like the society in Fahrenheit 451 – living in a singular world where technology has replace all human relationships and interaction.

Maggie Whelan

Souces:

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine Books, 1953. Print.

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