Guy Montag in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451


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Guy Montag is a fireman in charge of burning books. A gentle young girl named Clarisse
McClellan opens his eyes to the emptiness of his life with her innocently penetrating questions
and peculiar love of people and nature. After his wife Mildred attempts suicide without even
realizing what she is doing, after he witnesses an old woman let herself be burned with her
books, and after he hears that Clarisse has been killed by a speeding car, Montag searches for
solutions to his rising dissatisfaction in a stash of books he has stolen and hidden. He looks to
Mildred for help and support, but she prefers television to her husband's company and cannot
understand why he would want to take the terrible risk of reading books.
Montag remembers an old intellectual named Faber with whom he once talked in the park and
goes to him for help in understanding what he reads. Meanwhile, Beatty, Montag's superior, has
guessed that Montag is experimenting with books and hints that he should turn in the book he
stole from the old woman's library within 24 hours. Faber explains the value of books to Montag,
which lies in their ability to store and communicate meaningful information, something which
their society now lacks. He agrees to help Montag and gives him a two-way radio which fits into
his ear so that he can hear what Montag hears and talk to him secretly. Montag goes home and
finds two of his wife's friends there. Their superficiality angers him, and he shows them a book of
poetry and reads them one of the poems. Mildred tries to explain this away as standard fireman
procedure for proving to people how useless books are, but the women leave quite disturbed and
upset.
Montag goes to the fire station and hands over one of his books to Beatty. Beatty browbeats him
with his impressive knowledge of literature and historical quotations, which he uses to support his
argument that books are dangerous and must be destroyed. An alarm comes through, and they
rush off to Montag's own house. Mildred rushes out, and Montag realizes it was she who put in
the alarm. Beatty forces Montag to burn the house himself, and when he is done, he places him
under arrest. Beatty continues to berate Montag, who turns the flamethrower on his superior and
proceeds to burn him to ashes.

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Montag knocks the other firemen unconscious and begins to run,
when the Mechanical Hound, a monstrous machine which Beatty has set to attack Montag,
appears and pounces. Montag manages to destroy it with his flamethrower, but not before it
injects his leg with a large dose of anesthetic. Montag walks off the numbness in his leg and
escapes with some books that were hidden in the backyard. He hides these in one of the oher
firemen's houses and calls in an alarm from a payphone.
He goes to Faber's house, where he learns that a new Hound has been put on his trail. Faber
tells Montag he is leaving for St. Louis to see a retired printer who may be able to help them, and
Montag gives him some money and tells him how to remove his scent from the house so the
Hound will not enter it. He takes some of Faber's old clothes and runs off toward the river. The
whole city watches as the chase unfolds on TV, but Montag manages to escape in the river and
change into Faber's clothes to disguise his scent. He drifts downstream into the country and
follows a set of abandoned railroad tracks until he finds a group of renegade intellectuals led by a
man named Granger who welcome him. They are a part of a nationwide network of book-lovers
who have memorized many great works of literature and philosophy. They hope that they may
be of some help to mankind in the aftermath of the war that has just been declared. Enemy jets
appear in the sky and drop their bombs on the city, which is instantly vaporized. Montag and the
others turn and head up the river to see if they can help the survivors, and Montag knows he will
soon follow the other refugees out into the countryside, where there will always be plenty to keep
him fulfilled.


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