How does Mildred break the news of Clarisse's death to Montag? Why is it important that she does it this way?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Montag is laying next to Mildred in bed, he pulls the Seashell headphone out of her ear and asks her if she has seen their neighbor, Clarisse. Montag is worried because he hasn't seen her in three or four days. Mildred tells Montag that she forgot to tell him that she thinks Clarisse is gone. Mildred goes on to tell Montag that her entire family moved out, and Clarisse is gone for good. Mildred says she thinks Clarisse died after getting hit by a car, and that's why her family moved away. Montag is shocked and asks why she had not told him earlier. Mildred casually says that she had forgotten, and it happened four days ago. Mildred tells Montag "Goodnight," and rolls over to fall asleep.

Mildred broke the news to Montag in a casual manner because she was unaffected by Clarisse's death and dismissed it in her mind. Mildred is completely unattached and emotionally callous. Her husband had been mentioning Clarisse, and when she hears of Clarisse's death, Mildred doesn't even have the decency to tell her husband. It is important that Mildred broke the news to Montag in this casual manner because it portrays her cold, unsympathetic attitude towards life. Mildred doesn't care about someone who Montag had a friendly relationship with, which foreshadows their future marital conflicts. Mildred is the antithesis of Montag and this moment only highlights the extent to which Mildred has become emotionally unattached to Montag and his feelings.