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\Studyworld\ Studyworld Studynotes \ Fahrenheit 451:
Part 1 (II)

Montag goes into his own dark house, still thinking about Clarisse's question. When he opens his bedroom door, everything is cold and quiet. As usual, his wife, Mildred, is asleep in bed, with a pair of tiny radios -- called "Seashells" -- in her ears. The Seashells are always "talking" to her, so she doesn't have to think about or pay attention to the world around her. In fact, even when Mildred is asleep, she can still hear the voices in her head.

In this cold room, Montag feels his smile disappearing. He has suddenly realized that he is not happy. He feels as if he has been only pretending, wearing his happiness like a mask. But now Clarisse has run away with his mask, and he cannot chase her and demand that she give it back.

Montag accidentally kicks a small object, which rolls away under the bed. He stands above his wife's bed, and flicks on his fireman's igniter -- the tool he uses to set fires -- to look at her sleeping face. In that moment, a flight of jet bombers roars above the house, ripping open the night air with their noise. In the wavering light of the flame, Montag sees Mildred's eyes rolled back in her head. He realizes that she's not just asleep: she's taken an overdose of drugs. The tiny object his foot hit was her empty bottle of sleeping pills. As if in a dream, Montag lifts the telephone to call the hospital.

Two emergency medical workers, who Montag has never seen before, come to pump out Mildred's stomach and give her a blood transfusion. They smoke cigarettes and gossip, acting as if this is perfectly normal. They tell Montag that these days, people overdose all the time. Montag, feeling depressed and in shock, wonders if the problem is that there are so many people in the world now that nobody knows each other any more.

After the medical technicians leave, Montag stare out the window, to Clarisse's lit-up house, and wishes he could go over and talk to them -- he even wanders out onto the lawn. Mildred is asleep in her bed -- her blood has been cleaned out, but Montag knows that won't clean out the emptiness in her soul. He goes back indoors, takes a sleeping pill, and lies down in bed. As he falls asleep it begins to rain.

In the morning, Montag tries to talk to her about what happened the night before. But Mildred acts as if nothing happened at all. the night before. She has put the Seashells back in her ears, and over their cheerful noise she asks Montag casually if they had a party the night before: she can't understand why she's so hungry.

In the late afternoon, as Montag is getting ready for work, he stands in his hallway, looking thoughtfully up at the ventilation shaft above the door. He tries again to talk to Mildred about what happened the night before, but Mildred insists she remembers nothing, and then brings up an old topic: she wants to have a fourth gigantic TV-screen installed in the living room, so she can be totally immersed in her daily interactive soap operas. Montag gently reminds her that they put in the third wall only two months ago, and walks out into the rain to go to work.

Outside, he runs into Clarisse, who is walking with her mouth open to drink the rain. She smiles when she sees him, and rubs a dandelion under his chin. When it doesn't come out yellow, she says, "What a shame. You're not in love with anyone." Montag is disturbed by this, and insists that he is in love with his wife, but Clarisse says it doesn't show.

Clarisse tells him about the psychiatrist her school makes her see -- who tries to figure out why she does things like collect butterflies, and open her mouth to drink rain. Then, changing the subject, she tells him that it surprises her that he's a fireman. She says she can tell that he thinks about things. Last night, for example, when she mentioned the moon, he actually bothered to look up at it. Most firemen would never do that. So why -- Clarisse asks -- is Montag in his line of work?

Montag cannot answer. He feels something very strange happening inside him, as if his heart and body are dividing in two. When Clarisse runs off to her psychiatrist's appointment, he stands there in the rain for a long time, unable to move. Finally, he starts to move again, walking toward the fire station -- and as he walks, he opens his mouth to drink the rain.

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Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Part 1 (I)
Part 1 (II)
Part 1 (III)
Part 1 (IV)
Part 1 (V)
Part 2 (I)
Part 2 (II)
Part 2 (III)
Part 3 (I)
Part 3 (II)
Part 3 (III)
Part 3 (IV)
Part 3 (V)
Part 3 (VI)



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