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Part 2 (III)

As soon as Montag gets home, things begin to fall apart. Mildred has invited two friends over to watch the White Clown on the TV-wall with her. These women are named Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles, and to Montag they seem like perfect examples of everything wrong with people today. They keep talking about how they don't worry about their husbands in the military service, how they "take care" of their children by plunking them is front of the TV, and how they both voted in the recent Presidential elections based on which candidate looked more handsome on TV.

Montag, overflowing with a newfound sense of rage, decides to shock these women into really thinking for once. Despite Faber's voice, which is shrieking warnings in his ear not to ruin everything at the start, and over Mildred's nervous objections, Montag reads the ladies a poem from one of the books of poetry hidden in the house. The poem is by Matthew Arnold, and is called Dover Beach. [**Link to this poem?**] Its effect upon Mildred's friends is devastating. One of the ladies is left crying helplessly, the second is furious; they both leave Montag's house, swearing never to come back.

Faber, whose voice buzzes in Montag's ear through the electronic "bullet," scolds Montag severely: He may have ruined everything, destroying all their plans. But then he helps Montag calm down, and tells him he will learn from his experiences. Montag, with a vague sense of worry, takes the remaining books out of his house and hides them in the shrubbery. He notices that there are fewer than there used to be: it seems that Mildred has already begun burning them, one by one.

While the half-hysterical Mildred takes sleeping pills and shuts herself in the bedroom, Montag gets ready to go to work. Through the "bullet" in his ear, he asks Faber to help him stay strong, for he knows that Fire Captain Beatty will use all the tricks he knows to try to persuade Montag that he should go back to his old way of thinking. In the fire house -- which seems oddly empty, for the Mechanical Hound is out doing a job -- Montag hands over a book to Beatty. It isn't the Bible Montag stole from the burning house, but, to Montag's relief, Beatty doesn't even check the title before throwing it away.

Then, just as Montag and Faber expected, Beatty begins to try to convince Montag to go back to his old way of thinking. that books are useless. He does this by quoting books themselves, to try to prove to Montag that all books are useless -- he cites Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, William Shakespeare, and other great writers who, at times, criticized the folly of writers and the inadequacy of writing. Montag is left very confused and unhappy, but Faber's voice in his ear keeps him steady.

Just as Beatty finishes this verbal brow-beating, the fire alarm rings. Although Montag says he feels tired and sick, Beatty cheerfully orders all the firemen into the Salamander, and they roar off through the night to the address. Beatty is driving, for once, and Montag dully notices that his flapping firecoat makes him look like a giant bat. But when they pull up in front of the house they are to burn, gradually, through his haze of confusion, Montag notices something very strange: they have pulled up in front of his own house.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Part 1 (I)
Part 1 (II)
Part 1 (III)
Part 1 (IV)
Part 1 (V)
Part 2 (I)
Part 2 (II)
Part 2 (III)
Part 3 (I)
Part 3 (II)
Part 3 (III)
Part 3 (IV)
Part 3 (V)
Part 3 (VI)


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