What is the response of Mildred's friends when Montag reads "Dover Beach" and why does he kick them out in Fahrenheit 451?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Guy Montag reads the poem to the ladies, the two of them have kind of different responses.  One of them, Clara Phelps, bursts into tears.  She has no idea why she's crying, but she can't stop.  The other friend, Mrs. Bowles, is trying to comfort Mrs. Phelps.  At the same time, she is getting really angry at Montag.  She is telling him how nasty poetry is because of the fact that it makes people feel bad (the way Clara is right then).

Montag throws them out because (in my opinion) he can't stand the hypocrisy of what Mrs. Bowles is saying.  He points out that their lives are already terrible and they are just numb to it.  He lists all these bad things that have happened to them and he seems to be saying that it is really fake for them to pretend that they're happy and that it is stuff like poetry that makes them miserable.

boryung | Student

The interesting thing about the response of Mildred's friends to Montag's recital of poetry is that one of them, Clara Phelps, is actually moved by the poem. She is so moved, in fact, that she bursts into tears, shocking Montag and angering Mrs. Bowles, Mildred's other friend. Mrs. Phelps has no idea why she is crying. This scene is interesting because it shows that subconsciously the members of this society still possess the ability to think about books and be moved by poetry - deep inside, they still retain the sensitivity of the past world. Mrs. Bowles, however, is merely annoyed by Montag's recital, stating that poetry is pointless and that books only get people upset for no reason. Montag is so angered by her shallowness and blissful ignorance that he kicks Mildred's friends out of the house.

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Fahrenheit 451

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