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Technology and Relationships in Fahrenheit 451
With all the technology everywhere in everyday life, people often find themselves consumed by it. One becomes so focused on the latest reality television show, or the newest snapchat filter that quality time spent with the people that surround them does not seem to matter as much. In our society, the lack of true quality relationships due to technology is starting to become apparently clear. In the book Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury Fashioned a similar society to ours based off of relationships with technology. This theme can be seen in the two main characters, Millie and Montag. The constant bombardment of technology is everywhere, from the wall TV’s to the seashells the people put in their ears every night. And this constant presence takes it’s toll on Montag’s and Millie’s relationship, creating a lack of one in it’s entirety. Ray Bradbury uses the characterization of Millie and Montag to show how technology leads to a lack of true, human relationships.
Through the internal thoughts of Montag, Bradbury demonstrates how technology is preventing a relationship between him and Millie. Technology can often distract someone from life around them. Montag starts to realize this is happening to Millie at
the start of the book. He jokes about how, “wasn’t there a old joke about the wife who talked so much on telephone and her desperate husband ran to the nearest store to ask her what’s for dinner” (46). The thought of Millie, so distracted by her telephone, started as a joke and just a little thought in the back of his head, but quickly turned into something else. The simplest things such as conversations about dinner is prevented from happening because the technology is everywhere. Montag then notices later on in the book that “nobody listens anymore” to each other, “I can’t talk to my wife; she listens to the walls” (84). The wall is taking the role of a person for Millie, the role of someone to talk to, like a spouse. Millie and the technology spend quality time together and Montag detects this. He thinks how she turns to the “shimmering walls of color and motion where the family talked and talked and talked to her, where the family prattled and chatted,” instead of him for comfort (161). And because Millie turns to technology to share her life with, Montag can’t “believe he knew her at all” (46). As soon as the communication between Millie and Montag is lost, it is clear that is stemmed from technology. The communication that is needed for a solid and strong relationship between people is prevented from happening due to bombardment of technology.
To further prove his point, Bradbury uses the dialogue of Montag and Millie to show how technology is impacting relationships in a negative way. At the beginning of the book, Montag struggles to keep his marriage meaningful. The conversations between Millie and him do not go deeper than the surface; they are merely mandatory
conversations between husband and wife. This is demonstrated by Bradbury during a conversation between Montag and Millie.
“‘What was on?’
‘Some of the best ever.’
‘Oh you know the bunch.’
‘Yes, the bunch, the bunch, the bunch”’ (53). Millie is so interested in the programs and TV that she cannot see the effort Montag is making to have a nice conversation. This dialogue shows how technology is drawing her attention away from the important things in life like relationships. Montag attempts to make another deep connection with Millie later on in the book, too.
‘“God, Millie, don’t you see? An hours a day, two hours with these books, and maybe…”’ Then the telephone rang, “Millie snatched up the phone,
‘Ann”’ (76)! The distraction of technology is keeping them from really connecting each other. The bond between them is shut down when technology is turned on, so much that Millie starts to bond with technology instead of with an actual person like Montag. And once Montag sees that Millie’s bond with the technology in their house is stronger than the bond with him, he starts to question who and what she truly loves.
‘“Millie? Does the White Clown love you?”’There was no answer. ‘“Does your ‘family’ love you, love you very much, love you with all their heart and soul, Millie”’(79)? She then changed the subject. Millie knows that technology will never love her back but she does not want to admit it, because with technology relationships are easier. Technology makes things simpler; it doesn’t argue with you like a person, so it is chosen over relationships. This means relationships can never develop or deepen with technology everywhere. So there is a lack of relationships caused by technology.
In addition, Bradbury, to show how technology can create a lack of relationship, uses the characterization of Millie. Millie is often distracted when devices are present. One of the ways this is shown is through the seashells always occupying her ears. When Montag tries to ask Millie how she is doing she does not even take out her earplug because “she was an expert at lip reading from ten years of apprenticeship” (22). This shows how she puts the value of her technology over the value of her relationship with Montag. For her, to be so obsessed with technology for her to become an expert at lip reading so she doesn’t have to take out her earplug, shows us how technology is significant. Also, Bradburry shows us how she has a strong relationship with technology by using her discussions. She says, ‘“My ‘family’ is people. They tell me things: I laugh, they laugh”’ (75). By calling the people on her TV her ‘family’, she is implying that she has a good, real relationship with them. Her walls have taken the role of someone to talk to, they make her laugh and they laugh back, they connect, unlike
her and her husband. Millie loves her ‘family’ so much that she puts their lives over Montags. When the firemen destroyed Millie and Montag's house, she was devastated. Millie weeped, ‘“Poor family, poor family, oh poor family, or everything is gone”’ (116). Rather than caring about Montag who was about to be killed for having books, she was more worried about her walls being burned. This shows how weak Millie and Montag’s relationship was due to technology being everywhere.
In conclusion, in the book Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury uses characterization to show that when technology is constantly present relationships lack in the necessary things they need to thrive. In our modern society nowadays, we must disconnect from technology in order to deeply connect to and communicate with people. By doing this, people will learn to speak with, rely upon, understand and appreciate each other, and thus, form greater, deeper and truer relationships.