What does Montag read? How does Mildred explain the situation to her friends?
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Montag returns home and is eating alone in the kitchen when Mildred's friends, Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles, arrive to watch television with Millie. Montag, disturbed by the women's mindless pleasantries and lack of awareness of the world around them, unplugs the television walls and tries to engage the women in a discussion about the impending war. Mrs. Phelps is unconcerned about her third husband, who has gone to fight, and the women quickly turn the conversation to a recent television program. Montag persists, questioning the women about their children. Mrs. Phelps has none, and Mrs. Bowles has two, for whom she obviously feels no affinity. The conversation turns to politics, and Montag is disgusted to hear the women talk of how they voted for the current president because he was the more handsome of the two candidates. Montag then retrieves a book of poetry, the presence of which a shocked Millie explains by saying that every fireman is allowed to bring home one book a year to see how silly they are. At Faber's prompting, Montag agrees that this is true, and proceeds to read a poem, Dover Beach, to the three uncomfortable women. When he is finished, Mrs. Phelps is crying, though she cannot explain why, and Mrs. Bowles is angry with Montag for bringing about trouble. Mildred tries to calm the group, but the women are quite shaken and leave. Montag criticizes them as they go, telling them to think about the quality of their lives. Mildred goes to the bathroom to take some sleeping pills and Montag removes the radio from his ear as Faber begs him to stop, sure that he has gotten himself in trouble.