Which words would you use to describe Montag and Mildred's marriage in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury?

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jameadows's profile pic

jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Mildred and Montag's marriage is cold, distant, and unloving. When Montag is heading home at the beginning of the book, he thinks,

"Without turning on the light he imagined how this room would look. His wife stretched on the bed, uncovered and cold, like a body displayed on the lid of a tomb, her eyes fixed to the ceiling by invisible threads of steel, immovable. And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind" (10).

Mildred is always emotionally unavailable. Montag thinks of her body as if it were dead, as she has turned off reality and only pays attention to the screens on the wall and the sounds coming into her ears through the thimble radios clamped to her ears. She is likened to someone floating on an ocean—unreachable and drifting away from Montag. Stumbling upon Mildred's inert body, Montag realizes Mildred took too many sleeping pills and needs to have her stomach pumped. By listening to music, becoming absorbed by the characters on television screens, and taking sedatives, Mildred makes herself as unavailable as possible. Montag cannot really relate to her.

Later, as Montag develops a dangerous interest in reading, Mildred does not share his interest. She says to her friends about poems Montag is reading, "Ladies, you won't understand a word. It goes umpty-tumpty-ump" (95). Mildred thinks poetry sounds like nonsense and means nothing. She dislikes Montag's growing interest in books and thinks reading can make people "crazy" (95). The irony is that the way Mildred lives could be considered crazy, and she has no insight into the power and restorative power of literature. As Montag realizes what society has lost by burning books, he and Mildred grow increasingly and irreparably apart.  

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npoore84's profile pic

npoore84 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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I would describe Mildred and Montag's relationship as platonic. They hardly know each other, and are not in love with each other. Mildred's focus is on the "parlor family" and does not focus on Montag. When Montag asks her if she remembers where they met, she brushes it off, and cannot give him an answer. She doesn't feel as though it is an important part of their relationship. They sleep in separate twin beds in the same room, but do not really communicate with each other. They talk to each other, but there is no deep communication as there is when Montag meets Clarisse. It is also very evident that Mildred only cares for herself when she sounds the alarm on her own husband for having books in the house and reading poetry to her and her friends. 

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