Describe the conversation between Millie and her friends in Fahrenheit 451.

The conversation between Millie and her friends in Fahrenheit 451 illustrates their selfish, insensitive personalities, emphasizes their debased values, and reflects the shallow culture of their dystopian society. Mrs. Phelps shows no empathy or concern for her husband fighting overseas, and Mrs. Bowles elaborates on her horrible parenting style. The women also display their ignorance by only voting for popular, attractive politicians.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The conversation between Mildred and her friends, Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles, depicts their superficial, callous personalities and highlights the debased values of their destructive dystopian society. After shutting off the parlour walls, Montag asks about the war, and Mrs. Phelps displays a cavalier attitude about her husband fighting overseas....

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Mrs. Phelps demonstrates her shallow, insensitive nature by showing no concern for her husband's well-being and saying,

Anyway, Pete and I always said, no tears, nothing like that. It's our third marriage each and we're independent. Be independent, we always said. He said, if I get killed off, you just go right ahead and don't cry, but get married again, and don't think of me (Bradbury, 45).

Montag then inquires about their children and Mrs. Bowles responds by bragging about her Caesarians and commenting that she simply puts her children in school nine out of ten days to avoid them. The women have no interest in raising their children and view them as an annoying burden. The women have no regard for their families and are too selfish and insensitive to establish loving homes.

When Montag changes the subject to politics, the women depict their ignorant, superficial personalities by stating that they voted for President Noble because he was significantly more attractive than his opponent, Hubert Hoag. Rather than examining both political parties and voting based on policies, Mildred and her friends vote for the more popular, attractive politician. Montag is appalled by Mildred, Mrs. Phelps, and Mrs. Bowles's debased values and shallow personalities. After briefly speaking to them, Montag tells Faber via green-bullet,

Did you hear them, did you hear these monsters talking about monsters? Oh God, the way they jabber about people and their own children and themselves and the way they talk about their husbands and the way they talk about war, dammit, I stand here and I can't believe it!"(Bradbury, 46).

Montag then reads the poem "Dover Beach" aloud, which forces the women to examine their depressing, meaningless lives and makes Mrs. Phelps cry. Unfortunately, Montag's antics influence Mildred to call in an alarm on him.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Millie invited Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles over to watch the walls, and the walls keep them totally entertained until Montag turns off the power. He asks them about the war and when they think it will start. He expresses concern over the whereabouts of their husbands. The ladies aren't concerned. Mrs. Phelps replies

"... the Army called Pete yesterday. He'll be back next week. The Army said so. Quick war. Forty-eight hours, they said." (pg 94)

Then they comment that it is always someone else's husband who dies. . She says her husband has told her,

"...if I get killed off you just go right ahead and don't cry, but get married again and don't think of me. (pg 95)

Millie tries to change the subject and asks if they have seen a certain program on the walls. Suddenly Montag interrupts and asks Mrs. Phelps about her children.

"You know I don't have any! No one in his right mind would have children." (pg 96)

Mrs. Bowles disagrees.

"The world must reproduce, you know, the race must go on. (pg 96)

"I plunk the children in school nine days out of ten. I put up with them when they come home three days a month; it's not bad at all. You heave them into the 'parlor' and turn the switch. It's like washing clothes: stuff the laundry in and slam the lid. They'd just as soon kick me as kiss me. Thank God, I can kick back!" (pg 96)

Millie again changes the subject and suggests that they talk politics to satisfy Montag. The women show their shallowness when they only speak of the physical characteristics of the politicians. When they speaks of the losing candidate, they say,

"What possessed the 'Outs' to run him? You just don't go running a little short man like that against a tall man..... Fat too and didn't dress to hide it. No wonder the landslide was for Winston Noble. Even their names helped. Compare Winston Noble to Hubert Hoag for ten seconds and you can almost figure the results." (pg 97)

This frustrates Montag, and he runs and gets a book of poetry.He is wearing the earpiece that Faber gave to him, and Faber tries to stop him from reading the poetry. Montag, in his frustration says aloud,

"....Oh God, the way they jabber about people and their own children and themselves and the way they talk about their husbands and the way they talk about war, dammit, I stand here and can't believe it!" (pg 98)

The women are insulted at this point and prepare to leave. Montag insists they sit back down. After Montag reads the poem to them, Mrs. Phelps is in tears, and Mrs. Bowles is angry. They leave. Mrs. Bowls remarks as she leaves,

"...I won't come in this fireman's crazy house again in my lifetime!" (pg 101)

This is part of Montag's undoing for the two ladies report him to the fire department for having a book. Millie does too. As a consequence, Montag's home is burnt to the ground, and Millie leaves him.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team