In the book Fahrenheit 451, how does Mildred react to Montag's reading?

Mildred reacts to Montag's reading by refusing to read alongside him and remaining distant while he studies. The second time Montag reads in front of her, Mildred is embarrassed and anxious. She tries to act casual by ridiculing books but is genuinely disturbed by her husband's fascination with literature.

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The first time Mildred discovers Montag's hidden book collection, she is appalled and immediately attempts to destroy one of the books in the kitchen incinerator. After Montag settles her down and asks for help, Mildred expresses her distaste for literature by saying, "It doesn't mean anything! The Captain was right!" Mildred refuses to read alongside her husband and remains distant while Montag carefully studies.

Mildred is an ignorant, shallow woman who is comfortably numb watching her meaningless parlor walls all day. Similar to the majority of the citizens in Bradbury's dystopia, Mildred spends her leisure time glued to her television set. She has no desire to alter the trajectory of her life, exercise her mind, or seek meaning to life's most pressing questions. Instead of examining her lifestyle and striving to improve herself, Mildred prefers to be a mindless consumer of shallow entertainment.

As Montag continues to read and tries to comprehend valuable information, Mildred argues, "Books aren't people ... my 'family' is people. They tell me things; I laugh, they laugh! And the colors." She cannot think of anything outside of her television shows and is afraid to analyze herself. She genuinely considers the characters in the programs to be her family. The reader recognizes that she is out of touch with reality and in desperate need of an authentic experience. Despite Montag's arguments for reading, Mildred refuses to participate and imagines what she is missing on the television the entire time.

The second time Montag reads in front of Mildred takes place at the end of part 2. After visiting Faber, Montag arrives home to find Mildred and her friends watching the parlor walls. In an attempt to shock and scare the women into recognizing the futility of their existence, Montag reads the poem "Dover Beach" aloud.

At first, Mildred is embarrassed by her husband's desire to read and tries to play it off by encouraging him to read a silly poem. Deep down, Mildred is disturbed by Montag's fascination with literature and knows he is traveling down a dangerous path.

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It's no exaggeration to say that Mildred is genuinely scared by Montag's reading. Books are not part of Mildred's life at all, so she's suddenly forced outside her comfort zone when Montag turns the TV off and starts reading. He might as well as have turned off Mildred's life support system, such is the vital part that TV plays in her everyday life.

With TV, Mildred knows where she is. But with a book, she's all at sea. She just doesn't understand them, and more to the point, doesn't want to. She's perfectly happy to remain ignorant. For her, as for so many in this bibliophobic society, books are full of all manner of unpleasantness and conflict that she'd really rather avoid. So much better, she thinks, to zone out in front of a giant TV screen and not have to worry about anything.

So when she finds out about her husband's reading, it's at best deeply embarrassing for her and at worst downright traumatic. If Montag really did want to "scare the hell out of" Mildred, then he's succeeded admirably.

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There are two main ways that Mildred reacts to her husband's reading. One is the broader, conceptual level of her attitude toward reading in general and toward books. The other is her specific reaction to the reading aloud that he does for her and her friends. In both aspects, her attitude is negative, but her reactions are somewhat different.

When Montag feels ill the day after the old woman burned herself inside her house, he tries to explain to Millie how his ideas about books and their contents have changed: "It took some man a lifetime maybe to put . . . his thoughts down." After arguing against books, Millie gets defensive: "Let me alone. . . . I didn't do anything." When Captain Beatty comes into their house, she realizes that Montag has a book hidden under his pillow. After the captain leaves and Montag shows her his hidden stash of books, she tries to burn one. After he stops her, she is still terrified that they will go to jail and hides them from him.

Montag perseveres with his interest, however, and one day decides to read to Mildred and the friends who have come to their house. He chooses Matthew Arnold's poem "Dover Beach." Hoping to get them to excuse his behavior, she makes up a story that a fireman can bring home one book a year. She encourages him to read it as a kind of mocking entertainment: "Read this funny one . . . Ladies, you won't understand a word. It goes umpty-umpty-ump."

When one of the women bursts into tears, Mildred tries to cheer her up again but she storms out of the house. After she leaves, Mildred doses herself with sleeping pills.

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Mildred has her friends over for a visit.  They planned to watch TV together.  Montag ruins those plans by pulling the plug on the TV.  He asks the women uncomfortable questions about war and about their children, and then he pulls out his poetry book.  He has the little device Faber made attached to his ear.  Faber asks what he is trying to do.  Montag answers,

"Scare hell out of them, that's what,scare the living daylights out!" (pg 98)

This is where Mildred gets involved.  She asks Montag who is he talking to.  When she doesn't get a reply she tries to cover up his embarrassing mistake, hoping to avoid having her house burnt down.  She tells the ladies that

....once a year, every fireman's allowed to bring one book home, from the old days, to show his family how silly it all was, how nervous that sort of thing can make you, how crazy.  Guy's surprise tonight is to read you one sample to show how mixed-up things were so none of us will ever have to bother our little old heads about that junk again." (pg 99)

She then snatches the book and tells him to read a specific poem to the ladies, telling them that they won't understand a word.

Montag reads the poem, and when he finishes, Mrs. Phelps is crying.  Mildred tries to comfort her, and tells the ladies to turn on the television so that they can all be happy again.  The ladies refuse and leave the house.

Mildred goes into the bathroom and takes her sleeping pills.

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