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Reasons for Mildred's betrayal of Montag in Fahrenheit 451

Summary:

Mildred betrays Montag in Fahrenheit 451 primarily because she values conformity and stability over her relationship with him. Her fear of the consequences of nonconformity, coupled with her addiction to the shallow entertainment provided by the government, leads her to prioritize her own safety and comfort over her husband's revolutionary actions.

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In Fahrenheit 451, why does Bradbury make Mildred report Montag to the authorities?

Bradbury's purpose here is very much the same as Orwell's purpose in 1984 or Hitler's purpose in founding the Nazi youth:  fear works wonders, and brainwashing people helps to instill the fear.  Teaching people to turn on loved ones and report their behavior and speech when what they do and say (or think) goes against what the government deems appropriate puts everyone on guard and on his/her best behavior.

Montag loved Millie, but obviously the feeling was unrequited.  Millie is the epitome of the brainwashed simpleton that the government turns out and acts as additional police force.  Montag was safe as long as he kept his oppositional thoughts and the books to himself--Millie may have even kept the books a secret, but when he begins to recite poetry to her and her friends, there is no choice for her but to send in the alarm. 

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In Fahrenheit 451, why does Bradbury make Mildred report Montag to the authorities?

Bradbury has Mildred call in the alarm to show the absence of loyalty to family in Montag's society. She doesn't even think twice about it and as soon as Beatty shows up on Montag's doorstep she flees without a glance in Montag's direction.

"Mildred came down the steps, running, one suitcase held with a dreamlike clenching rigidity in her fist . . . She ran past with her body stiff, her face floured with powder, her mouth gone, without lipstick."

She was just a body, no mouth (yes without lipstick) metaphorically she does not even speak for herself, she is just wearing the mask of society or perhaps has become that very mask. She was simply cohabiting with him but there was no love, there was no depth, there was no marriage. Montag didn't realize when he married Mildred but after being exposed to the wonder of the written word he begins to develop as a human being. He begins to have depth to soul and meaning in his life. Bradbury write Mildred as his accuser to show the stark difference in their personalities. Mildred is loyal to the rules she's been brainwashed to follow and Montag is loyal to his friends Clarisse, the Professor, and the books.

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In Fahrenheit 451, why does Bradbury make Mildred report Montag to the authorities?

Mildred is shown throughout the novel as a weak, unintelligent woman, who is typical of the society that Montag tries to thwart by reading.  Bradbury's message in the novel is to warn people of what happens when society no longer reads.  He wrote this book in the early years of television, yet he saw that people were getting away from the written word and gravitating toward the electronic media and instant gratification.  He saw that people wanted to be entertained, not intellectually challenged and in this book, he hoped to suggest what a society that continued in that direction would be like.  Since Mildred is typical of that non-thinking, non-feeling society, she has no problems turning in her husband.  Mildred thinks only of herself and how the world affects her, not how she affects the world.  She doesn't care that Guy is her husband; she only knows that if she doesn't turn him in and someone else does, she could go down with him and that would not be pleasant for her.  She would lose her home and her TV family - something she would find unbearable.

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Why would Mildred and her friends report Montag to the police in Fahrenheit 451?

After Montag leaves Faber's house, he is determined to scare the hell out of Mildred and her superficial friends by making them confront reality. Mrs. Bowles is opposed to Montag reading poetry and says, "We can't do that!" (Bradbury 95). Mildred explains that once a year firemen can take home one book to show their family how silly literature is. She asks Montag to read a poem, and Montag reads "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold. After he reads the poem, Mrs. Phelps breaks down and begins to cry. Mrs. Bowles reacts out of anger and yells at Montag for reading the "silly awful hurting words" (Bradbury 97). Montag proceeds to insult the women about their superficial, wasted lives, and threatens to kick them out of the door. When the women leave, Mildred is silent and refuses to respond when Montag calls her.

Mildred and her friends would turn Montag into the police for several reasons. The first being that Montag has a book of poetry in his possession which is illegal in Bradbury's dystopian society. The second being that he is attempting to express intellectual views to emotionally assault Mildred and her friends. One of the main reasons why the government chose to censor books is because the populace was upset at authors for criticizing society and their immoral life decisions. Montag is essentially criticizing the women for their worthless lifestyle which would be another reason they would call the police on him.

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In Fahrenheit 451, why does Mildred betray Montag?

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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In Fahrenheit 451, why does Mildred betray Montag?

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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In Fahrenheit 451, why does Mildred betray Montag?

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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In Fahrenheit 451, why does Mildred betray Montag?

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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In Fahrenheit 451, why does Mildred betray Montag?

There's a passage early in Ray Bradbury's classic depiction of a futuristic dystopian society, Fahrenheit 451, in which the author, emphasizing the passionless nature of his protagonist's existence, save for joys of executing his mission of burning books, depicts Montag's arrival at his home at the end of his shift only to encounter the familiar sight of his wife, Mildred, tuned out of reality:

"Without turning on the light he imagined how this room would look. His wife stretched on the bed, uncovered and cold, like a body displayed on the lid of a tomb, her eyes fixed to the ceiling by invisible threads of steel, immovable. And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind. The room was indeed empty. Every night the waves came in and bore her off on their great tides of sound, floating her, wide-eyed, toward morning. There had been no night in the last two years that Mildred had not swum that sea, had not gladly gone down in it for the third time."

With this introduction to Montag's home life, it is unsurprising that, once this repentant fireman has evolved into an opponent of everything in which he had earlier believed, he grows increasingly angry towards his wife. As Montag, having witnessed the woman deliberately burn herself to death in the fire that consumes her books, and having begun to question the nature of his existence as one of those tasked with carrying out the burning, he grows more and more intolerant of Mildred's almost robotic dedication to living under the government's rigid strictures. Mildred, as depicted in Bradbury's novel, is the consummate good citizen. 

In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury has conjured up a fictional society in which an autocratic regime denies the populace under its control access to all sources of information and knowledge. Books, as Professor Faber and, most significantly, Captain Beatty enlighten Montag, contain knowledge -- knowledge that could raise inconvenient questions in the minds of the public with potentially unpleasant ramifications for the government. A pliable populace is essential to the regime's ability to survive with unquestioned authority. Mildred is the very embodiment of what the regime wants of all of its citizens. Her's is an emotionless, empty existence. She stay's permanently tuned-out of the world around her, evident in the following passage describing Guy and Mildred's typical morning:

"Toast popped out of the silver toaster, was seized by a spidery metal hand that drenched it with melted butter. Mildred watched the toast delivered to her plate. She had both ears plugged with electronic bees that were humming the hour away. She looked up suddenly, saw him, and nodded. "You all right?" he asked. She was an expert at lip-reading from ten years of apprenticeship at Seashell ear-thimbles. She nodded again. She set the toaster clicking away at another piece of bread."

So brainwashed is his spouse, that Montag is compelled to attempt to conceal even from her his possession of the book he has secreted away. That Mildred does discover his secret, and uses it against him, including holding her husband up to ridicule before her friends:

"Guy's surprise tonight is to read you one sample to show how mixed-up things were, so none of us will ever have to bother our little old heads about that junk again, isn't that right, darling?'

"He crushed the book in his fists. "Say `yes.' His mouth moved like Faber's.

"Yes."

Mildred snatched the book with a laugh. "Here! Read this one. No, I take it back. Here's that real funny one you read out loud today. Ladies, you won't understand a word. It goes umpty-tumptyump. Go ahead, Guy, that page, dear."

Montag becomes angry with his wife before Bradbury's story even begins. Their marriage has clearly been little more than a formality for some time, as the early reference to Mildred lying in her own bed suggests. His break with the regime he has loyally served, however, expands the chasm between husband and wife astronomically. A once passionless relationship has evolved into one of hostile antagonism. His growing disdain for the system he once served cannot coexist with a wife who is the embodiment of that system. 

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Why did Mildred report Montag to the authorities in Fahrenheit 451?

I think Montag scares Mildred with the change in his personality and hiding of books in their home.  When he reads the poem, “Dover Beach,” to her and her friends, she realizes that Montag is breaking the law, and she can also get in trouble for allowing him to have books.  Mildred’s friends are the first to call in the alarm on Montag, and Mildred probably feels the pressure to do so as well.  Mildred is a product of her environment; she has fallen victim to the mind-numbing society in which she lives.  She is obsessed with the soap operas on her wall-size TV’s and is unconsciously so depressed that she overdoses on sleeping medication.  Mildred is afraid, not only of Montag but of society who searches out rebels like Montag who are becoming free-thinking individuals.  In addition, Montag and Mildred’s marriage is loveless.  They have grown apart over the years; and therefore, it isn’t particularly hard for her to turn him in, pack her bags, and run before the house is burned down.

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Why did Mildred report Montag to the authorities in Fahrenheit 451?

I think that there are a couple of reasons for this.

First, I think that Mildred truly buys into the ideas of the society.  She loves things like the "families" in the parlour walls.  She does not want to think.  She just wants the life that society says she should have.  So she does not want Montag to go against society and hates him for doing it.

Second, I think that she personally does not want to live with someone who holds views like his.  She does not want him to pester her about reading like he has started to do.

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