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An example of a paradox is when Mildred’s friend Mrs. Bowles says that the poetry Montag reads is silly, when in fact it was so beautiful that it drove them to tears.
A paradox is a contradictory statement or situation. It is when something is illogical, invalid, or contradicts itself.
One of the main tenets of Montag’s society is that they have eliminated books because they do not need them. The universities closed due to lack of enrollment. Captain Beatty explained to Montag that books make people think, and they do not want to think. They have all they need with their television, and their lives are complete.
When Montag reads “Dover Beach” to the women, he pretty much blows that argument out of the water. The entire incident proves that their society has been sold a bill of goods. They do need poetry, and books, and emotions. They have just been suppressing them. This simple poem is too much for Mrs. Phrmps too bear. When Montag reads it, she bursts into tears.
I knew it would happen! I've always said, poetry and tears, poetry and suicide and crying and awful feelings, poetry and sickness; all that mush! Now I've had it proved to me. You're nasty, Mr. Montag, you're nasty!" (Part II, p. 97)
Her statement is paradoxical because she is basically disproving her own point. She says that poetry is silly in one sentence, and calls nasty in the next. Mrs. Phelps is crying because of the pure emotion of it.
Montag wanted to see if books have power. They clearly do. He exposed himself and put himself and them in danger by reading to the ladies. He also greatly confused them, because they are not used to poetry and books. They live in an illiterate society where culture is nothing but mind-numbing television.
There are different versions of the book, but this is near the end of Part II.
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