Throughout his novel, Bradbury uses multiple futuristic devices with symbolic significance to the story. One such technology are the parlour walls. WIth this new invention, the walls of your parlour become the screen, and place you inside the story, letting you take part in plays and shows. This hasn’t been invented yet, however similar technologies have been invented. 3D television is one such similar creation. In Fahrenheit 451, the parlour walls are a symbol for disconnect with other people and the real world, and this is shown through Mildred’s attachment to them, and Clarisse.
The first time we are introduced to parlour walls is through Clarisse. Montag remarks that she “thinks too many thing”. Clarisse replies by saying “I rarely watch the parlour wall… So I’ve lots of time for crazy thoughts.” This is one of the first times we are introduced to the idea that being considered crazy involves being curious of the world around you, and not being obsessed with technology. Clarisse, as one of the only people in the book who does not fit in with the societal norm, is seen as crazy, and we can see that this is because she isn’t swept up in societies idea of normality. She asks questions, is curious about the world around her, and this is exactly what the rulers of that society don’t want. This adds to the story because it allows us to see the backwardness of that world, and how things are different between the present today and the present Ray Bradbury imagines.
We also see the use of the parlour walls with Mildred. She is immersed in the world of the parlour walls, and the only thing that concerns her is the virtual family. She asks Montag if they can install a fourth parlour wall, making all of the walls in their living parlour walls. She says that installing it would only cost 2000$, and that Montag should consider her sometimes. She goes on to say “If we had a fourth wall, why it’d be just like this room wasn’t ours at all, but all kinds of exotic people’s rooms.” This wall would cost two thirds of Montag’s yearly pay, and they only installed the third wall two months ago. She responds to Montag’s reasoning by saying “We could go without a few things.” This shows that Mildred is becoming obsessed with the technological world. She doesn’t care that it would cost a lot of money to make it happen, she just wants it to happen. When she says “And I should think you’d consider me sometimes”, you can see how wrapped up in her own world she is. Montag has already done a lot for her, and suffered through every time she over-doses on sleeping pills, but he still stays with her and tries to make her happy.
I think the parlour walls are important because they sort of reflect on what society is like now. Many of us are reliant on our cells phones, or other technologies, and when we lose them we are lost. Just like when Montag is about to burn down their house, the only thing Mildred cared about was the loss of her parlour walls ‘family’. Bradbury’s predictions about the future in this book are startlingly accurate, and if we think about it, is it long before we become similar to that society?