Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 1A
Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 begins with a description of the main character, Guy Montag, a fireman trained not to put out fires, but to set them. The number on his helmet reads 451. Coincidentally, this is also the temperature at which he and the other firemen burn the books they find. Montag seems to be a robot of sorts, a machine simply following orders, not thinking for himself in any way at all. His mission-a mission to destroy homes contaminated with books-is mandated by the government. Though he initially seems moderately content with his job and his life in general, Montag’s mind reflects the condition of his futuristic society: empty. He walks home from work every night “thinking little at all about nothing in particular.” In this world, very few people still bother to consider the deeper questions of philosophy and religion. They are consumed with instant gratification-gratification that distracts them from larger, more important yet unsettling issues. The government, which strongly promotes this lifestyle, is in the meantime struggling to sugarcoat a major world war, which threatens to tear the nation apart-physically.
On this evening, Montag is surprised when he rounds a street corner to come face to face with a teenage girl, Clarisse McClellan, who happens to be his neighbor. Clarisse admits herself that she is “seventeen and . . . crazy.” Indeed she is out of place in this brave new world of sorts, where individual personalities are downplayed by society. More importantly, Clarisse thinks for herself-a trait definitely discouraged by the totalitarian government of the time.
On their walk, Clarisse asks questions that force Montag to think deeply, perhaps for the first time, about his life and himself as a person. For example, she laments over the incredibly fast speed of cars on the roads. “I sometimes think drivers don’t know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly,” she explains to the fireman. Clarisse brings up a good point: this society is too preoccupied with speed to enjoy the colors of nature. There is actually a minimum speed limit: vehicles driving too slowly will be pulled over by the police. Clarisse admits that she doesn’t go to the government-sponsored activities, such as parlor walls or Fun Parks, and thus she has plenty of time to daydream and think deeply. This is all new to Montag, who can’t believe his neighbor is so rebellious. Yet in a sense, Clarisse is an inspiration to Montag, who is beginning to feel rebellious himself.
Later, she asks him if he is happy, and he immediately becomes uncomfortable and embarrassed, not knowing what to say. It’s obvious that Montag has tried to dismiss this thought, yet because of Clarisse, he begins to consider these deeper questions of life. For example, when he returns home and looks at his wife, in bed and listening to “little seashells” in her ears that serve to entertain her mind during the night, he realizes that indeed he isn’t happy. Bradbury explains, “he wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back.”
In bed, Montag soon realizes that his wife, Mildred, has tried to kill herself by downing an entire bottle of sleeping tablets. Montag, still in shock, dials the police and soon two robot-type men enter the house, carrying two different machines to drain and replace Mildred’s blood. Bradbury contrasts this very melancholy scene with the laughter of Clarisse and her family next door: “Above all, their laughter was relaxed and hearty and not forced in any way, coming from the house that was so brightly lit this late at night while all the other houses were kept to themselves in darkness.”
This is too much for Montag’s fragile emotional base. All the ideas fluttering around his mind are captured in Bradbury’s stream-of-consciousness narration: “Clarisse, Mildred, uncle, fire, sleeping tablets . . . ”
In the morning, when Mildred awakes, Montag questions her about her suicide attempt and she denies it, saying she “wouldn’t do a thing like that.” Soon, Mildred’s obsession with her “family,” or the fictional characters of her expensive three-walled television, is made known. Obviously Mildred fits the perfect profile of a modern human: she’s just another robot; she doesn’t think or feel, but simply absorbs the propaganda that the government feeds her.
Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 1B
Later, Montag leaves his house to go to the fire station where he works the night shift. On the way there, he again meets Clarisse, who uses a dandelion to show that she’s in love. When she rubs the dandelion on Montag’s chin, no yellow mark is made, which means he’s not in love with anyone. The fireman tries to convince himself and Clarisse that he is indeed in love, but it soon becomes painfully evident that he’s not. In this scene, Montag also realizes that Clarisse seems more mature than his wife, although Mildred is thirty years old while Clarisse is only seventeen. Obviously this reflects their differences as people. Mildred is a government-corrupted robot who knows nothing outside the world of her parlor “family” while Clarisse has learned about real life-nature, religion and philosophy.
Upon reaching the firehouse, Montag becomes immediately frightened by the Mechanical Hound that stands guard outside. This computerized dog acts as the iron fist of the government, finding and eliminating enemies of the system (one of whom is Montag or at least will be). The “animal” has heightened perceptions and can easily detect traitors to the government’s cause. When Montag approaches, the Mechanical Hound seems suspicious, growling at him when he says “hello.” Bradbury personifies the dog: “It was like a great bee come home from some field where the honey is full of poison wildness, of insanity and nightmare, its body crammed with that overrich nectar, and now it was sleeping the evil out of itself.” This frightens Montag, who begins to suspect that someone in the fire station knows about his secret-namely, that he has books illegally hidden behind the ventilator grille of his house. This person has presumably “told” the hound by programming this information into its computer chip.
Later, Montag speaks to Clarisse about how she is “anti-social.” This passage implicitly suggests Bradbury’s attitude toward education, which is a fundamental theme of the book. Clarisse is labeled “anti-social” by her peers, because she doesn’t attend school or any of the other government-sponsored activities. Yet Clarisse has a different definition of sociality. She asserts, “Social to me means talking to you [Montag] about things like this … [At school] they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film teacher. That’s not social to me at all.” Here Bradbury, in the words of Clarisse, strongly advocates freedom of thought and attacks government censorship.
After a few days, Clarisse abruptly disappears. Montag doesn’t know what happened to her yet, but her absence deeply troubles him, though perhaps he doesn’t know why. Also, it seems that war is coming to this country, though the state-controlled news bulletins won’t announce it. Jet bombers are frequently heard overhead, but most people don’t notice or realize their significance. Here, Bradbury builds the setting for his dramatic conclusion.
Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 1C
In this summary of Bradbury’s part one, Montag, who is playing cards with the other men, realizes that all of the firemen are “mirror images of himself.” All of them have “charcoal” hair and blackened faces from the smoke. This realization scares Montag, who is beginning to see who and what he is. Indeed all the men are robots-that’s what this society wants. Fortunately, Montag sees this quality of his society and will soon try to break the mold.
Next, Montag is drawn into a conversion with Beatty, the fire chief, and the rest of the men. First, he absent-mindedly speculates about the consequences of a fireman possessing books (obviously thinking about himself). This leads Beatty to question Montag, who of course hides the fact that he has so many books hidden behind the ventilator grille of his home.
Later, Montag, remembering what Clarisse told him earlier, asks Beatty if it’s true that at one time firemen put out fires instead of starting them. In response, he shows Montag the fireman’s rulebook, which outlines a brief history of the profession. This book champions Benjamin Franklin as the first fireman because he apparently mandated the burning of pro-British books in the newly founded United States. Thus, Bradbury must consider Franklin to be the first American to censor literature.
Soon the alarm sounds and Montag and the other firemen race to a house where books have been reported to exist. Though usually the police come to take away the “victims” before the firemen arrive to torch the place, on this occasion, the owner is still present when Montag arrives. She greatly disturbs Montag, who feels guilty that she is there to see her beloved books and house burn. Amidst the confusion, Montag finds himself snatching up one of the books for himself. Bradbury narrates, “Montag had done nothing. His hand had done it all, his hand, with a brain of its own, with a conscience and a curiosity in each trembling finger, had turned thief.” After the firemen have dutifully doused the dark inhabitance with kerosene, the woman strikes a match, willfully destroying her house and books as well as committing suicide in the process.
During Montag’s return trip to the fire station, the reader begins to find out that there is more to Beatty than meets the eye. The fire chief seems well-versed in classic literature, being able to quote a sixteenth-century heretic who the woman at the house referenced. Indeed Beatty does know the material he chooses to burn. Yet he shrugs it off as, “I’m full of bits and pieces . . . Most fire captains have to be.”
Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 1D
Next, Montag returns home, appearing sick and delirious as he hides his new book under his pillow. Watching Mildred listen to her beloved seashells, Montag again realizes how alienated he is from his wife and home. He knows that they have no love for one another anymore and that their life together is meaningless. Bradbury explains, “And suddenly she was so strange he couldn’t believe he knew her at all. He was in someone else’s house, like those other jokes people told of the gentleman, drunk, coming home late late at night, unlocking the wrong door, entering a wrong room, and bedding with a stranger and getting up early and going to work and neither of them the wiser.”
Montag identifies Mildred’s parlor “family,” the automated voices that talk to Mildred from the walls, as a major reason for the falling-out in their relationship. The fireman thinks to himself, “Well, wasn’t there a wall between him and Mildred, when you came down to it? Literally not just one wall but, so far, three!”
After awhile, Montag learns from his wife that Clarisse is missing. “Whole family moved out somewhere. But she’s gone for good. I think she’s dead,” Mildred explains. This leads to a discussion between the couple over Montag’s career as a fireman. “Mildred, how would it be if, well, maybe, I quit my job awhile?” Montag asks. He goes on, “Last night I thought about all the kerosene I’ve used in the past ten years. And I thought about books. And for the first time I realized that a man was behind each one of the books. A man had to think them up.” When Mildred becomes frustrated with Montag’s personal struggle, he finally releases his anger, charging, “How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
Soon Captain Beatty comes to Montag’s house, pretending to be a caring employer looking out for his sick employee, but really meaning to interrogate Montag. When the chief enters, Montag again hides the book under his pillow. This is a terrifying scene for Montag, who frantically tries to cover-up his illegal activity. Here, Beatty explains the history of book censorship (according to Bradbury obviously). Though before books were censored, and when “the world was roomy,” authors were able to put down their true thoughts even though they only appealed to a minority. Yet as the earth’s population grew, literature had to be “leveled down to a sort of pastepudding norm.” This explains the modern world’s demands for censorship, since toleration of others’ rights forced the media to abolish books altogether, since books could conceivably offend someone. Yet unlike Brave New World, censorship doesn’t originate from the government-quite the opposite: “Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God,” Beatty explains to Montag. The captain continues by defending the moral aims of the ideal of censorship: “Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.” Later, Beatty attacks critics of the system, asserting, “We stand against the small tide of those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought. We have our fingers in the dike. Hold steady. Don’t let the torrent of melancholy and drear philosophy drown our world.”
In this way, Bradbury asserts his own beliefs about censorship by having the fire captain support the exactly opposite position. Thus, instead of telling the reader what to think, the author lets the reader see the error of Beatty’s logic for himself.
After the fire chief leaves, Montag grows reinvigorated in his own position and decides to reveal to Mildred his deep secret-the books he has hidden behind the grille. Mildred, however, doesn’t understand her husband and resists his “radical” ideas.
Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 2A
Bradbury’s next section begins with Montag sitting on his floor, reading portions of his hidden books. Though most of the writing goes over his head, Montag still realizes the importance of the literature he illegally owns. Secondly, he connects the authors of these books with Clarisse. “These men have been dead a long time, but I know their words point, one way or another, to Clarisse,” he says to himself.
Soon, however, the reader begins to perceive a very ominous presence. The Mechanical Hound seems to be listening to Montag read from behind the door. Yet Montag is undaunted. He again attempts to convince Mildred that his books are acceptable, necessary in fact. Considering the coming nuclear world war to which everyone seems oblivious, Montag asserts, “Maybe the books can get us half out of the cave. They just might stop us from making the same damn insane mistakes!” In this way, Montag sees books not only as helpful tools, but as vital agents of salvation for his diseased world.
Knowing that he doesn’t posses the necessary knowledge of books to change the world himself, Montag begins to consider whether or not anyone will be able to help him. Soon he remembers an incident that occurred in a park several months before. Out of the corner of his eye, he had seen an old man hide a book under his jacket when he approached. Though wary of Montag, the man, named Faber, decided to give the fireman his address for future reference. Thus, Montag had a contact person to begin his “quest.” After questioning Faber on the phone unsuccessfully (Faber denies having any books), Montag finally shows Mildred his recently stolen book-the Bible. Mildred urges him to turn it in to Beatty, but Montag is reluctant, thinking instead that he can turn in another book in its place.
On the subway, Montag tries again to read his Bible, hoping that if he reads a lot at one time, some of it he will remember before he forgets it all. Bradbury uses the sieve in the sand metaphor to support this idea. What’s ironic about this scene is that Montag reads about the “lilies of the field” while his ears are forced to listen to “Denham’s” personal hygiene advertisements from the subway speakers. Here, the poetic beauty of scripture and the old world clashes with the mechanized message of consumption offered by Bradbury’s new age of government dictatorship.
Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 2B
After enduring the subway, Montag finally reaches Faber’s house. Though the elderly man is hesitant to reveal himself to the fireman, he eventually opens the door when he sees the Bible Montag possesses. Faber admits that he hasn’t seen a Bible for a long time. He goes on to criticize the secularization of religion in recent years. He muses, “I often wonder if God recognizes His own son the way we’ve dressed him up, or is it dressed him down?” Christ is now little more than a good advertiser for consumer goods. It seems everything and everyone who used to be real is watered down in this overly tolerant society.
Soon, Faber begins telling Montag the history of this modern era from his perspective. Ancient books, like the Bible, are incredibly valuable, Faber argues, because they are sufficiently detailed to portray life as it is-real. The reason why the Bible and other books were censored, Faber says, is because their portrayal of life was often too real-it accurately showed human sin and ugliness, which became offensive and troubling to people. Secondly, Faber explains that the lack of leisure time, meaning time to contemplate the deep mysteries of life, has been taken away by the government. Temporal pleasures, like television, serve to occupy people and keep them from true, independent thought. Lastly, the application of the ideas learned in books, a natural freedom, Bradbury though Faber argues, is necessary to change the behavior of man. Books are intended to correct the mistakes humans made in the past, and to “remind” men what “asses and fools” they were.
Montag’s character continues to change. No longer is he a robot, as he was at the beginning of the novel, but now he is beginning to think for himself, seeing himself struggling for a noble ideal-namely, to save the world from ignorance. Montag is firmly committed to this ambition. He tells his mentor, “That’s the good part of dying: when you’ve nothing to lose, you run any risk you want.” Here, Montag realizes the relative insignificance of his own life compared to that of the world. This discussion inspires Montag to conceive of a plan. Though Faber is skeptical about the possibility for another mental renaissance of sorts, Montag believes that a new revolution of peoples’ minds can indeed occur. Yet when Faber refuses to help, Montag threatens him, reminding him that’s he’s a fireman. When he begins to rip the pages of the Bible, Faber gives in and agrees to teach Montag what he knows as a professor.
Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 2C
Next, Montag and his teacher/mentor, Faber, construct a loose plan of action. Montag gives Faber some cash to purchase a printing press from an old college friend of the old man. Also, Montag decides to start planting books in other firemen’s homes so that they will be burned. “The salamander devours his tail!” Faber exclaims, now grown excited at the prospect of the plan’s success. Most importantly, Faber gives Montag a “seashell” listening device that he’s invented. Faber instructs Montag to put this instrument into his ear so that he can receive instructions from his teacher. In this way, he can speak for Montag without actually having to confront others (i.e. Beatty) directly. Faber explains, “I can sit comfortably home, warming my frightened bones, and hear and analyze the firemen’s world, find its weaknesses, without danger.”
At home, Montag finds his wife entertaining women guests who have come to watch her parlor family. Montag, now inspired by his conversation with Faber, realizes now more than ever that he has nothing in common with these women, who live their lives according to what’s on television, not by what’s in their hearts or minds. One of these ladies even complains about having to put up with her children during the three days that they come home every month (The other days are spent in state-run day care, learning how to be a robot no doubt).
Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 2D
Soon, Montag becomes so bold with the ladies that he begins to read them poetry from one of his books. This is a traumatic experience for the women, one of whom starts to cry. Though Montag destroys the book afterwards, to make it seem as though he was simply demonstrating the silliness of poetry, the damage has already been done. When Mrs. Bowles rejects Montag’s “poetry lesson,” the fireman can restrain himself no longer. He tells her, “Go home and think of your first husband divorced and your second husband killed in a jet and your third husband blowing his brains out, go home and think of the dozen abortions you’ve had, go home and think of that and your damn Caesarian sections, too, and your children who hate your guts! Go home and think how it all happened and what did you ever do to stop it?”
This ruins the social evening completely. All the ladies leave, except Mildred, who hurries to the bathroom to take some sleeping tablets. Through the radio-seashell, Faber hears all of this, unable to believe what Montag has said. Montag knows that his actions may have given him away, but he takes comfort in the fact that Faber is there (in the seashell) to teach him. Bradbury explains, “His mind would well over at last and he would not be Montag any more, this the old man told him, assured him, promised him. He would be Montag-plus-Faber, fire plus water. . . .” Faber rebukes Montag for his careless actions with the ladies, but admits that mistakes can lead to wisdom. Next, earplug in place, Montag enters the fire station, ready to do battle with Beatty. During their card game, Beatty intimidates Montag by quoting books that cite the danger of learning. Beatty knows exactly what Montag has done, and hopes to scare him off with his superior knowledge of literature. Indeed, Beatty seems incredibly well read, despite his opposition to books. Bradbury doesn’t explain the fire chief’s history very well, but the reader can assume that Beatty has an interesting story to tell. The captain tries to dissuade Montag from becoming too attached to books. “Stick with the firemen, Montag. All else is dreary chaos!” he tells him.
This scene is one of the most important in the entire novel. Montag must decide whom to believe: Faber or Beatty. This is no easy task; Montag already feels exhausted and physically derailed by the captain. Yet Montag has little time to collect his thoughts before the fire alarm sounds and he finds himself racing to another house. Finally the Salamander stops-in front of Montag’s residence.
Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 3A
Now in front of Montag’s house, Beatty drops all pretenses of being kind. He refers to Clarisse as “that little idiot,” blaming Montag for accepting her philosophy of life. Soon, Mildred rushes out of the house, muttering to herself about her lost “family.” As she scurries into a waiting car, Montag asks her if she was the one who put in the call to the authorities, but she doesn’t respond. Montag, of course, feels a tremendous burden. His wife has left him, his terrible secret is revealed, and now he has to torch his own house.
Beatty continues his attack, saying to Montag, “[Fire’s] real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences. A problem gets too burdensome, then into the furnace with it. Now, Montag, you’re a burden. And fire will lift you off my shoulders, clean, quick, sure; nothing to rot later.” He hopes to torture Montag even more by telling him to burn his house single-handedly, without help from the other firemen. Later, he ridicules him, saying, “It was pretty silly, quoting poetry around free and easy like that. It was the act of a silly damn snob.” Next, Beatty tells Montag that indeed his wife did sound the alarm on him, as well as did the ladies who fled the house when Montag read the poetry. Finally, Beatty tells Montag that he’s under arrest. To top it off, the fire chief smacks him, knocking Faber’s seashell onto the pavement. Beatty picks up the earpiece radio and remarks, “We’ll trace this and drop it on your friend.”
These events prove to be too much for Montag. Fighting back the only way he knows how, he unlocks the safety on his flame thrower, aims at his captain, and fires. Beatty’s blackened corpse slowly falls to the ground. Soon the Mechanical Hound sees Montag, attacks and is torched, but not before injecting him with his poison.
Sensing the danger of remaining at the crime scene, Montag decides to hurry away. Yet he gets the last laugh when he turns to Beatty’s dead body and says, “You always said, don’t face a problem, burn it. Well, now I’ve done both. Good-bye, Captain.”
Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 3B
Remembering to pick up the books that he had hid in the garden, Montag limps away from his burning house, hearing police sirens approaching. Suddenly Montag comes to the realization the Beatty wanted to die. He reflects over Beatty’s demeanor just before his death, “How strange, strange, to want to die so much that you let a man walk around armed and then instead of shutting up and staying alive, you go on yelling at people and making fun of them until you get them mad, and then…” This notion is not altogether surprising. Suicide is rampant in this society, as Bradbury shows earlier. And after all, Beatty is a very depressed man. Though he knows the power that books have, he is cynical about them, citing the troubles that come from their reading. Obviously, Beatty feels betrayed by books, and thus, has decided to burn them. Yet living this way isn’t living at all. Montag knows this and Beatty always did. Yet their reactions to this knowledge are different. While Montag decides to fight back, Beatty gives in, opting for this passive suicide of sorts by letting Montag torch him.
By this time, Montag is losing his sanity. He can’t believe the events that have occurred in the past few hours. He didn’t mean to kill Beatty, but he did, and now he must deal with it. In a similar way, his distorted mind thinks that Faber is dead, since what he knew Faber to be, the seashell, is scorched. Montag’s animal instincts kick in as he considers what to do with the enemies he has left. “You must remember, burn them or they’ll burn you, he thought. Right now it’s as simple as that.” Soon, he finds himself heading towards Faber’s house. Really, the old man is the only friend he has left. On the road to Faber’s, Montag, in his delirium, somehow manages to avoid the police cars and helicopters that seek him out. Near a gas station, he even hears a physical profile of himself, now a fugitive wanted for murder. Next, he stumbles across the home of Mr. Black, his fellow fireman. He sneaks into the house and hides the books inside, stopping later to phone in the alarm from a public phone outside a convenience store. As he walks away, he hears the approach of fire engines on their way to burn the Black residence.
Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 3C
Finally, Montag reaches Faber’s house. The old man is shocked to see him alive, after losing the ear-piece that was their only connection. Montag quickly fills Faber in on his recent actions, scarcely believing his own words. “My God, how did this happen?” he says. “It was only the other night everything was fine and the next thing I know I’m drowning. How many times can a man go down and still be alive? I can’t breathe. There’s Beatty dead, and he was my friend once, and there’s Millie gone, I thought she was my wife, but now I don’t know. And the house all burnt. And my job gone and myself on the run, and I planted a book in a fireman’s house on the way. Good Christ, the things I’ve done in a single week!”
Hearing all of this, Faber feels rejuvenated and ready to do battle himself, instructing Montag to head for the river while he leaves for St. Louis to see a retired printer. Both men sit down to drink and relax a few minutes before they must be on the move. Flipping on the television, they learn that a new Mechanical Hound is being brought in to track Montag, and that the media will be televising the Hound’s progress.
Now, with time against them, Montag tells Faber to get rid of his scent by turning on the air-conditioner and the sprinklers. The two men part ways, agreeing to meet later in St. Louis. Though Montag is understandably exhausted, his persona continues to change. He is able to think for himself, make his own decisions, and even tell Faber what to do. This is quite a contrast from the opening few pages, where Montag was nothing more than an ignorant, submissive robot of society.
Fahrenheit 451 Summary – Part 3D
What follows is Bradbury’s intense account of Montag’s struggle to lose the Hound. Despite being sought by the Mechanical Hound, the helicopters, and twenty million television viewers instructed to look for the fugitive fireman, Montag is able to find the river, which we follows for some time before reaching safety on land.
Now safe, Montag starts to reflect over the mistakes he has made over the course of his life as well as the mistakes his world has made. This is one of the most important passages in the book. Montag realizes his own special role in the rebirth of thinking that must occur if the world is to go on. Bradbury narrates, “Somewhere the saving and putting away had to begin again and someone had to do the saving and the keeping, one way or another, in books, in records, in people’s heads, any way at all so long as it was safe, free from moths, silverfish, rust and dry-rot, and men with matches.” Montag has changed his attitude 180 degrees from the opening of the novel. Instead of burning books and the knowledge they contain, he is now their arch-protector.
This new land itself feels different to Montag. For the first time, he actually smells-that’s right, smells! Here, in this new land of promise, Montag feels truly human for the first time. Bradbury explains his thoughts: “There was more than enough here to fill him. There would always be more than enough.” After a few minutes of following the nearby railroad track, Montag sees the men he is suppose to meet, sitting around a fire that is warming, not burning. Surprisingly to Montag, all the men know his name and seem to be expecting him. These are the men of whom Faber spoke. They live as hobos, staying secluded along the railroad lines outside the cities, away from the police. To keep from being arrested, each man memorizes the texts of as many books as he can, instead of carry the books themselves. The goal is to one day, when the world has changed, be able to re-copy these books into written form again. But in the meantime, the wisdom of these works must be remembered. Granger, the leader of these men, explains their mission to Montag: “All we want to do is keep the knowledge we think we will need intact and safe. We’re not out to incite or anger anyone yet. For if we are destroyed, the knowledge is dead, perhaps for good. We are model citizens, in our own special way; we walk the old tracks, we lie in the hills at night, and the city people let us be.” Montag, too, has a vital role to play. Granger informs him, “If anything should happen to Harris, you are the Book of Ecclesiastes. See how important you’ve become in the last minute!”
Watching through a portable television, Montag and his new friends see the Mechanical Hound find a replacement for the real fugitive. The animal closes in on an unsuspecting old man. It seems as though media ratings are more important than actually solving the crime. Bradbury continues to relate nature to the theme of Fahrenheit 451, using the words of Granger: “When we forget how close the wilderness is in the night, my grandpa said, someday it will come in and get us, for we will have forgotten how terrible and real it can be.” Soon, the men, now miles away, hear the bombing of Montag’s city. The war seems apparently underway. Montag knows that Mildred must be one of the millions of people killed in the massacre, and though he feels some sorrow, he knows that Mildred is emotionally dead anyway. Granger reflects over the city’s destruction, saying, “We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand years and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, someday we’ll stop making the goddamn funeral pyres and jumping in the middle of them.” He goes on, “But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them.” Yet Bradbury leaves the reader with at least some hope that Montag and his friends’ point of view will eventually be planted again in the minds of the townspeople. For at lunch, Montag is inspired to share with the men this passage: “And on either side of the river was there a tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”