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Free Study Guide-Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury-Free Online Booknotes
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The Mechanical Hound

Summary

The Fire Station is also the home of the Mechanical Hound, a contraption that is used to catch and destroy "criminals." It is a powerful beast that is programmed to find a particular human scent. When the hound finds its victim, a four-inch hollow steel needle plunges down from its proboscis and injects jolts of morphine or procaine into the criminal. Its victim is then tossed into the incinerator.

Whenever Montag gets close to the Mechanical Hound, it growls and behaves as if it is going to catch him. Montag tells Captain Beatty, the boss, that he is afraid of the hound, but the captain laughs at him. He insists that the hound is just a fine bit of craftsmanship and technology. He then questions Montag as to whether he has a guilty conscience about something.


Notes

The Mechanical Hound is a horrible example of the progress made in the name of science. It is made of brass, copper, steel, and "bits of ruby glass and sensitive capillary hairs." It is used to track down and destroy "criminals;" their scents are programmed into its memory. Once it finds its victim, the hound captures the criminal and throws him in the incinerator. Man no longer has to become involved in police work.

Montag is frightened of the hound. He is certain that the beast does not like him, for it growls whenever he comes near. Captain Beatty hints that Montag feels guilty about something, and the hound senses that. No further explanation is given, but the hint of something hidden in Montag's life builds suspense. There is also some mention made of something "hidden" behind the ventilator grill, but it is not explained either; however, this "planting" further builds curiosity and suspense in the novel. Bradbury seems to be indicating that danger lurks in anything hidden. The foreboding presence of the emotionless hound and its growling at Montag intensifies the feeling of suspense

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