In Fahrenheit 451, why does Mildred betray Montag?

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Once Montag knows the truth, he is desperate to expose the fallacies of his controlling government and chooses to share the truth with his wife. Mildred is a poor choice for this knowledge for several reasons:

She is not emotionally mature. When Mildred learns of the books, she exclaims,

"Books aren't people. You read and I look all around, but there isn't anybody!"

He stared at the parlor that was dead and gray as the waters of an ocean that might teem with life if they switched on the electronic sun.

"Now," said Mildred, "my 'family' is people. They tell me things; I laugh, they laugh! And the colors!" (part 2)

While she cannot fathom the possibilities of books and cannot respond to them intellectually or emotionally, she longs for the stories and "family" portrayed in her parlor. In fact, this false sense of reality is all she longs for, and her life seemingly revolves around it. Later, Montag presses her:

"Millie? Does the White Clown love you?"

No answer.

"Millie, does"—he licked his lips—"does your 'family' love you, love you very much, love you with all their heart and soul, Millie?"

He felt her blinking slowly at the back of his neck. "Why'd you ask a silly question like that?"

Here it becomes clear that Mildred cannot emotionally connect with her husband and instead hinges her emotions on her false sense of reality, often brought to her through her fictitious "family."

She also wants to save herself. When Montag brings his books to the attention of Millie's gathering of friends, she is shocked. Millie tries to shush him and even tries to snatch his books away. She knows the possession of books is a dangerous business and even concocts a story about how each fireman is allowed to bring home one book a year to share with his family so that they all realize how silly books are. Considering her relative difficulty in navigating anything beyond superficial conversation, this shows the level of fear that Montag's display has stirred in Millie. Millie knows that too many people now know Montag's secret after he frightens her friends with poetry, and she wants to be sure she isn't implicated. One certain way to do this is to turn him in to the authorities herself.

Millie is not a hero. Throughout the novel, she makes no bold moves. She has no deeply introspective thoughts. She doesn't actively support her husband's passions. She is passive and does exactly as the government has conditioned her without question. She is content to live a life of (what she perceives to be) comfort and to be left alone with her vapid friends and false reality. She turns in her husband because he longs for more, and he threatens her sense of comfort and societal norms by doing so.

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Mildred betrays Montag because, as a product of the society they live in, she believes it is the right thing to do and that his involvement with books is wrong.

Montag changes a great deal after he comes to realize the importance of books and the failure of their society. He takes out a lot of his anger on Mildred as he tries to have a deeper relationship with her and she fails to look away from her television family and focus on their marriage. He sees her as empty; she sees him as crazy.

He shows her the books. He reads a poem to her friends when they visit. Montag is a danger to her current life and the television in their home. The poem makes one of her friends cry and another angry. They all leave and refuse to visit again.

She doesn't understand why Montag loves books, can't relate to him, and sees that he's a danger to her. So she turns him in.

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Mildred is the prototypical citizen in Bradbury's dystopian society. She is callous and superficial. Mildred does not share Montag's enthusiasm for literature and would rather watch her 'parlor walls' all day. Mildred is content living a meaningless life and being entertained by interactive television shows and Seashell radios. After Montag shows her his stash of books and reads poetry aloud in front of her friends, Mildred realizes that her lifestyle is threatened. She knows that her husband is committing a crime by hiding books and reading literature. Mildred decides to call the authorities on her husband because she does not want to be involved in Montag's precarious lifestyle. Since Mildred does not love Montag, she reports him without hesitation and can only think of her possessions as she drives away. Mildred is not loyal to her husband and simply wishes to live a mundane life which was threatened by Montag's recent escapades.

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After Montag's meltdown, where he reads to guests from a book, Mildred calls the alarm, bringing Montag to his own house with Chief Beatty. He tries, for the last time, to communicate with her, but she rebuffs him:

She shoved the valise in the waiting beetle, climbed in, and sat mumbling, "Poor family, poor family, oh everything gone, everything, everything gone now...."
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

Mildred has been so conditioned to accept the television screens as her "family" that she is in shock; her house with its three wall-screens is going to be burned, and she believes this is a terrible loss. For Mildred, her comfortable lifestyle, living inside the status quo, is proper and enough to live for; she cannot understand Montag's obsession with books, because all she wants out of life is the meaningless emotional responses that the television programs create in her. With Montag's books -- and probably Montag himself -- out of the way, she can find another "family" on television and stop worrying that she will be cast from society.

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