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.
When Montag wakes up the morning after Mildred attempts suicide, he observes her making breakfast in the kitchen. This description shows Mildred wearing the Seashell ear-thimbles so frequently that she is used to reading Montag’s lips instead of actually listening to him. Her simple nod to Montag’s question whether she is all right indicates she has no memory of taking the pills the night before.
She laughed an odd little laugh that went up and up. “Funny, how funny, not to remember where or when you met your husband or wife.”
After Montag watches a woman burn with her books, he asks Mildred where they first met, and neither of them can remember. While this concerns Montag, Mildred laughs it off, saying it is funny to forget such a detail. This demonstrates how little Mildred cares about real human relationships, especially as she knows more about her television “family” than her own husband.
“Will you turn the parlor off?” he asked.
“That’s my family.”
Montag feels ill the morning after burning a woman with her books, so he asks Mildred to turn off the wall-size televisions in the parlor. Mildred responds that the characters in the televisions shows are her “family,” an attachment she expresses throughout the novel. This is an example of how technology is used to replace human connection.
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.
This is Montag’s first description of Mildred. Though he later discovers she has attempted suicide, seeing her unresponsive in bed, distracted by technology, does not seem to be unusual for her. He describes the room she is in as “indeed empty,” indicating the hollowness of Mildred’s life due to her obsession with the world in the television.
Millie, he thought. All this country here. Listen to it! Nothing and nothing. So much silence, Millie, I wonder how you’d take it? Would you shout Shut up, shut up! Millie, Millie.
Montag is hiding in the river from the Hound as he notices how quiet it is in the country. Montag is used to the constant noise from the televisions, cars, and ear pieces, and knows Mildred would not be able to tolerate such stillness. The fact that she would not be able to stand the silence and lack of stimulation shows how dependent she is on technology and entertainment.