Having been moved by the woman with a multitude of books who refused to leave her house when the firemen prepare to torch it, Montag had books fall into his arms until his hand
closed like a mouth, crushed the book with wild devotion, with an insanity of mindlessness to his chest.
At home he has hidden this book, but Montag has thought long about the woman and measured the firemen against her. He tells Mildred that they are going to have to try to put their lives back together and, perhaps, reading will help.
Then, in Part II, Montag pulls down the book from its hiding place and he and Mildred sit on the floor. Montag squats down and "read[s] a page as many as ten times, aloud." He reads a line about friendship and he begins to think about Christine, the first person in "a good many years I've really liked." Montag realizes that she is the first person in years who has spoken to him as though he matters, and she herself has discussed topics that are real and important--disturbing in their reality because they have pointed to the dehumanization of their society. And then he recalls the old man in the park, a retired English professor, tossed away by a society no longer interested in the liberal arts. This man spoke in a cadenced voice as he looked around at the sky and trees. Then, growing braver, the professor spoke in verse, and Montag knew it was a poem; however he did not reach into the pocket. After the man finishes his poem, he hands Montag his address on a slip of paper for his "file," saying it's in case Montag decides "to be angry with me." Montag recalls the man's parting words:
"I talk the meaning of things. I sit here and I know I'm alive."
To Montag's ideas about revitalizing their minds and awakening their souls, Millie is unresponsive; it is as though her soul has been sucked out along with the other things that the "snake-like thing" vacuumed from her that night she almost died. With her shrieks of empty laughter at the Clown show, Montag dials the phone number of Professor Faber.