In Fahrenheit 451, why does the conversation between Montag and Mildred's friends deteriorate?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Montag has revealed his stash of books to Mildred, and they spend the night reading. Montag's mind is expanded and changed, while Mildred is so terrified of social pressure and the government that she barely comprehends any of it. When her neighbors visit to watch communal TV, Montag tries to engage them in conversation:

"Compare Winston Noble to Hubert Hoag for ten seconds and you can almost figure the results."

"Damn it!" cried Montag. "What do you know about Hoag and Noble?"

"Why, they were right in that parlour wall, not six months ago."
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

Montag, craving intelligent conversation, is driven to anger by the superficiality of the conversation, how everyone shares their opinions without actually knowing anything about the subjects, how they seem to know nothing except what is shown on TV. His growing anger causes him to lash out and then try to shock the women by reading from a book; however, his newly acquired individuality and their stagnant collectivism cannot find common ground, and so the party ends in tears and anger.


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