After the woman chose to burn herself along with her beloved books, Montag is deeply affected, so much so that he grabs some of the books and clandestinely takes them home, hiding them in his house. He recalls an old man on a bench that he once observed reading. Having communicated briefly with Professor Faber, the older man gives Montag his phone number. Now, intrigued by the power that books held over the woman, Montag tries to read, but is unable to comprehend. So he contacts Faber to teach him to understand.
Later, Montag's wife Mildred invites her friends to the house so that they can watch the White Clown, an interactive program in which they play insipid roles. When Montag attempts conversation with them, they are disinterested in the war even though one of their husbands is a soldier--his wife says she will just get another husband if he dies--and they are not concerned about the recent election of the President which was obviously orchestrated. All in all, they are disconnected from reality. Angered and disturbed by their insipid thoughts, Montag returns and reads from a poetry book which he has confiscated; he reads Dover Beach, a poignant poem by William Butler Yeats that expresses the poet's chagrin at the steady loss of faith that his culture has experienced
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
Montag hopes that this poem will touch the women and speak to their cultural losses. Instead, the women are outraged. Mrs. Bowles denounces poetry and criticizes Montag's bad taste in subjecting them to its sordidness. Mrs. Phelps is so threatened by Montag's actions that she cries.