One of the most significant of the many literary allusions in Fahrenheit 451 occurs when Montag reads Matthew Arnold's poem "Dover Beach."
Why does Montag read this poem and how do Mildred's friends respond?
Montag wants to watch a different program on the parlor TV. He reads the poem in an attempt to distract the women so that he can change the channel. The women, much to his dismay, become angry and call the firemen in an act of revenge.
He wishes to have a genuine discussion with the women. He reads the poem with the hope that he can motivate the women to discuss the writing. Although the women are moved by his reading, they are not really aware why they are emotionally affected and dismiss the discussion.
He tries to impress the women by pretending that he is the one that wrote the poem. However, Mrs. Phelps recognizes the poem and accuses Montag of lying. Montag is extremely embarrassed, and the women laugh at him.
To practice memorizing this poem, Montag reads it to the women. Mildred's friends are so impressed by Guy's reading that they beg him to read more.
When they were dating, Montag read this poem to Mildred. He reads it to the women in an attempt to get Mildred to recall their courtship. Mildred's friends become jealous because their husbands do not read them poems.