What is Mildred's main concern as she runs out of the house in Fahrenheit 451?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Mildred’s main concern as she runs out of the house is for the “family” on the television.

As Mildred runs out of the house with her suitcase, “dream-like clenching rigidity in her fist,” Montag realizes she called the alarm on him.  She seems not at all concerned with 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 ...." (Part III).

She feels that he has betrayed her.  She called the firemen on him, but he betrayed her.  For her house to be burned, the risk is not her husband but the “family” or the television people.  All she cares about are the people onscreen.  Her TV-watching time was threatened.  That is what she was upset about.  For this, she blames him.

Of course, Montag did turn her world and his upside down when he brought books into their lives.  When he saw a women willing to burn alive for her books, he wondered what he was missing.  Beatty wants Montag to destroy his own house with a flamethrower, to punish him for his waywardness, but Montag decides instead to turn on Beatty. 

From this point on, life as he knows it has changed forever.  His wife turned on him.  His boss and friend turned on him.  He had nothing left but Faber and the books, and he went toward them.  He decided that books were worth giving up everything for.

Mildred’s treatment of her husband and her focus of the family demonstrates the lack of personal connection in this society.  Mildred spends all of her time looking at the television and lives for the “family.”  It is all she cares about.  She cares more about the fictional and two dimensional family than she does her real and living husband.  When she invites friends over, they watch the family on screen.  There seems to be no connection between Montag and Mildred, a common theme in Bradbury’s work and a caution to us all, as such a thing is not uncommon in our own lives.

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