In Fahrenheit 451, how does the conversation between Montag and Mrs. Phelps go?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montag returns home after talking to Faber to find that his wife has invited some other ladies over to watch television. Full of conflicting emotions from reading, Montag is unable to sit by and listen to the mindless chatter from the parlor, so he turns off the television wall and tries to engage the others in conversation. Unused to speaking about anything important with other people, the women vacillate in confusion. Montag's questions make them uncomfortable, and Mrs. Phelps in particular is very put out:

Montag moved his lips.

"Let's talk."

The women jerked and stared.

"How're your children, Mrs. Phelps?" he asked.

"You know I haven't any! No one in his right mind, the Good Lord knows; would have children!" said Mrs. Phelps, not quite sure why she was angry with this man.
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

The entire concept of having a real conversation is alien to these people, who are conditioned to react to sound and light, not to issues and content. They can't relate to Montag's new passions. The situation comes to the head when Montag reads poetry to the group; although nobody understands the meaning of the words, it affects them. Mrs. Phelps breaks down crying and the others escort her from the house; Montag sends them away, shouting threats.

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Fahrenheit 451

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