What are some important quotes from Mildred Montag in Fahrenheit 451?

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Mildred isn't exactly renowned for making memorable statements, but what she does say tends to tell us a lot about the dystopian society in which she lives. And here's an excellent example:

Montag, take my word for it, I've had to read a few in my time, to know what...

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Mildred isn't exactly renowned for making memorable statements, but what she does say tends to tell us a lot about the dystopian society in which she lives. And here's an excellent example:

Montag, take my word for it, I've had to read a few in my time, to know what I was about, and the books say nothing! Nothing you can teach or believe. They're about non-existent people, figments of imagination, if they're fiction. And if they're non-fiction, it's worse, one professor calling another an idiot, one philosopher screaming down another's gullet. All of them running about, putting out the stars and extinguishing the sun. You come away lost.

A depressing statement, to be sure, but one that perfectly illustrates the widespread bibliophobia that penetrates deep into the empty minds of so many in this decadent society.

Mildred is setting herself up here as an authority on reality, but what does she know about it? Her whole life is spent in a vacuous dream-world of soap stars and unctuous political candidates with their bright, gleaming perma-smiles. There's nothing real about her or the empty existence she leads, and her grotesque caricature of what books are alleged to contain shows her to be invincibly ignorant, which is just what the government expects people to be.

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Mildred is the epitome of the perfect citizen according to Captain Beatty's description and the society at large. She is completely distracted by entertainment such as TV, radio, and fast-moving cars. She would never do anything to change her environment and she blindly plays the role that the government expects. The idea is to keep citizens distracted with mindless activities so they won't want to ask the bigger, deeper, or more involved questions such as, "Am I happy?" Thus, the major quotes that Mildred is given are the ones that exemplify her character as a good citizen of the state. 

First, good citizens like Mildred are completely attached to their TV shows. Mildred is so attached that she must have four TVs in order to have as many on her walls as everyone else does. Mildred pleads to her husband as follows:

"It's really fun. It'll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed. How long you figure before we save up and get the fourth wall torn out and the fourth wall-TV put in? It's only two thousand dollars" (20).

The popular thing to do is to spend money on TVs and other distractions to keep life superficially "happy."

Another thing that the government does is to get rid of people who behave contrary to the rules and status quo. For example, Clarisse and her family seem to disappear one day and Montag asks his wife if she knows where they have gone. Because she is so wrapped up in her distracted lifestyle, she doesn't get to know her neighbors well enough to notice when they leave. When Montag triggers her memory by asking about them, she says the following:

"Oh, I know the one you mean. . . I meant to tell you. Forgot. Forgot. . . I think she's gone. . . Whole family moved out somewhere. But she's gone for good. I think she's dead. . . McClellan. McClellan. Run over by a car. Four days ago. I'm not sure. But I think she's dead. The family moved out anyway. I don't know. But I think she's dead. . . No, not sure. Pretty sure" (47).

Her absent-mindedness and unclear memory are the results of distracted living. The government wants citizens like Mildred so that no one will know when their neighbors are killed for behaving differently than desired.

Next, Mildred demonstrates the ignorance of society towards books when she compares books to her soap operas, as follows:

"Books aren't people. You read and I look all around, but there isn't anybody! . . . Now, . . . My 'family' is people. They tell me things: I laugh, they laugh! And the colors!"

The irony of what Mildred says here is that she thinks that her TV program is real. She has an emotional connection to those characters and doesn't understand that books can be that way, too. Unfortunately, the 'family' doesn't discuss intellectual issues that jeopardize the society's way of life. When Montag questions her about the people in her show she doesn't know what's going on to really articulate its meaning or purpose in her life. In the end, Mildred is simply too conditioned to the society's popular lifestyle to want anything more; whereas, her husband Montag does want more. 

 

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