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Free Study Guide-Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury-Free Online Booknotes
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PART 3: "BURNING BRIGHT"

Beatty is killed and the Mechanical Hound bites Montag

Summary

Montag is not overly surprised that Mrs. Black, one of the neighbor women, reported his possession of a book. He is shocked, however, when he finds out that his wife, Mildred, also turned him in. He watches her run out of the house with a suitcase and disappear in her "beetle" without even acknowledging him. Beatty, for his part, seems to be satisfied that Montag is caught. He tells him he has known for a long time about the books and that he tried to warn Montag by sending the Hound on his trail. Beatty is most angry with Montag for not giving up, for not having been scared of the Hound and for having the audacity to persist in his quest for knowledge. Beatty uses many images and quotes from literature in his condemnation of Montag; after thoroughly berated him, Beatty then forces Montag to torch his own house. Contrary to Beatty's expectation, Montag takes pleasure in torching his home; he especially delights in ruining Millie's television room, which had consumed his wife's soul.

Faber whispers to Montag that he should run; but Montag cannot move. He is afraid of the Hound, for he knows his chance of escaping is dim. Beatty then discovers the green bullet in Montag's ear and says he will be able to trace the two-way radio to its source. Montag realizes he must kill Beatty. He turns the flame-thrower at his boss, burning him to death. Montag tries to run, but the Hound catches up with him. Montag puts up a noble fight, but the Hound injects its poison into his leg. Montag burns his leg, hoping to destroy the poison and hobbles away.

Notes

Beatty's smugness reveals that the man takes pleasure in the undoing of Montag. He reveals that he has known about the books for awhile and claims that he tried to warn Montag with the Mechanical Hound. Beatty is incensed that the fireman refused to heed the warnings and continued to try and acquire knowledge. As he lectures Montag, he quotes from books; it is obvious that Beatty has memorized passage after passage, and yet he is willing to destroy all books and the people who study them. He is obviously a conflicted man, one almost worth of sympathy.


Beatty makes Montag torch his own home, thinking it to be a huge punishment. Ironically, Montag takes pleasure in seeing it burn, especially the television room in which his wife spent her life. Once again, Montag manages to stay calm due to the encouragement of Faber. When his friend quietly encourages him to run over the listening device, Montag cannot heed his warning; he is too afraid of the Mechanical Hound. Then Beatty discovers the green "bullet" in Montag's ear and says he will trace its source. Montag, frantic for his friend's safety and his own survival, decides he must kill Beatty; he turns the igniter on him, killing him in a most appropriate manner. It is the moment of climax in the plot, for Montag has taken a stance from which he can never turn back.

Once Beatty is dead, Montag rediscovers his own energy, which he uses to fight the Hound. Although it is a formidable, perhaps invulnerable, machine, Montag's rage is so great and his cause so worthy that he is able to fight the Hound off for awhile. Finally, it succeeds in injecting its poison into Montag's leg. Though he loses the use of his leg and probably the leg itself, Montag manages to hobble away. Although the entire scene is a tragic one, with the flight of Mildred, the destruction of Montag's house, the murder of Beatty, and the injection of the poison, it ends on a positive note. Miraculously, Montag manages to escape from the Hound and hobble away to freedom.

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