Why does Montag Kill Beatty in “Fahrenheit 451”?

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Why does Montag Kill Beatty in “Fahrenheit 451”?

In Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” the protagonist Montag’s killing of his fire chief, Beatty, marks a pivotal moment in the story. This essay will analyze the reasons behind Montag’s drastic action, exploring themes of censorship, individuality, and rebellion. It will discuss how Beatty’s antagonism and the oppressive societal norms he represents compel Montag to act in defense of his newfound ideals and pursuit of freedom. The piece will examine the symbolic significance of this act in Montag’s transformation and the broader narrative of the novel. The goal is to provide an in-depth understanding of Montag’s character arc and the thematic implications of his confrontation with Beatty. Also at PapersOwl you can find more free essay examples related to Fahrenheit 451.

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Fahrenheit 451 is about a guy named Montag in the era after 2021. It takes place in a major city in Chicago and St. Louis. They have strange laws; for example, books are not allowed. If you are caught with them or have them in your house, you’ll have your house burnt down by firefighters and will get fined by the officials or jail time. It’s ironic that firefighters burn down houses instead of hosing fires down.

Montag’s Awakening:

Part 1 starts off with an introduction of Montag and his wife.

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Then, with his relationships, he was very inclined and didn’t know many people until he met Clarisse, who opened his eyes to how empty his life was. His wife was forgetting a lot of things; she had an absent mind and really was not snapping back into reality. This quote, for example, on page 47, “Funny, how funny, not to remember where or when you met your husband’s wife.” This means that she doesn’t even remember the big things. Going through parts 2 and 3, Clarisse dies in a speeding car, and Mildred goes somewhere else in a taxi, leaving Montag. When Montag got caught handling books, the boss was fed up, and he was very aggressive towards him. He knew that he was going to die, but because Montag was irritated by his nagging, he killed him with a flamethrower.

The Catalyst:

In the end, Montag starts running off in the streets, getting away from the people and the police. On television, people were notified that a firefighter killed his captain by describing his age and how he looked. Montag was on the sidewalk, frightened for his life, not trying to get caught by anyone. He turns to Faber, and Faber helps him by giving him clothes and a way to escape towards the river. These quotes show an example of what they did to not get caught by the mechanical hound on pages 138 and 137: “Behind him he heard the lawn sprinkling system jump up, filling the dark air with rain that fell gently and then with a steady pour all about, washing on the sidewalks and draining into the alley. “Wipe down the furniture with alcohol, wipe the doorknobs. Burn the throw rug in the parlor. Turn the air-conditioning on full in all the rooms and spray with moth spray if you have it.” The reason they did all of that was to not get caught by the mechanical hound, and it did work from this quote, “Montag held his breath, like a doubled fist, in his chest. The Mechanical Hound turned and plunged away from Faber’s house down the alley again.”

The Complexity of Montag’s Character:

Being a good person is a lot of hard work, and it is hard to please everyone because some people just don’t like you. What makes a person good is kind of different for everyone, but for me, it’s self-explanatory. For example, abiding by the laws. Even though a law does not make any sense whatsoever, you still have to follow it and not find loopholes to take advantage of the government. Next, do not be rude to other people, and if they are rude to you, don’t make a scene and leave them alone. Just because they had a bad interaction with you, don’t take any anger towards them cause that’s just a waste of time. With family, always have a strong relationship and work through it, even with working.

A bad guy is obviously totally the opposite of a good person. They are always breaking laws and involved with illegal activity. Having rude interactions and attitudes with others won’t get you far in life. A bad person has a bad relationship with their family and just doesn’t care. With Montag, he shows a lot of these traits. My opinion about Montag is very mixed because the readers have seen him transform from good to bad.

Montag’s Moral Struggle:

For example, when Montag had a call in for a house to burn, he stumbled upon the books. He was interested; this quote represents his curiosity about them on page 41, “In the dim, wavering light, a page hung open, and it was like a snowy feather, the words delicately painted thereon. Montag had only an instant to read a line… “Montag had done nothing. His hands 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.” He was very eager to read more, but he knew it was wrong. Montag proceeded to steal the books and hide them in his house. The woman in the house was not listening to the firefighters; she chose to stay in her house when it got lit up with flames. She committed suicide because she was a believer in books. Montag saw her in the kitchen waiting for it. The quote explains what he did when he noticed her, page 43: “Go on,” said the woman, and Montag felt himself back away and away out the door…” Lastly, an example of Montag becoming and being a bad person is when he takes the life of Beatty. Page 125: “He tried to piece it all together..” “He lay where he had fallen and sobbed, his legs folded, his face pressed blindly to the gravel. Beatty wanted to die.”


Finally, my conclusion in this book is that Montag is a horrible person. He had a toxic relationship with his wife. He could not understand her, and he did not love her. With his job and being a firefighter, he would secretly steal books and read them. He loves them so much he can cite a quote without looking at it, just from memory. This is bad because this entire book is about how books are illegal, and he disobeyed it; that’s how he ended up killing Beatty. With the woman, he had a chance to save her, and he knows it. In the book, it clearly stated that he saw her and slowly walked out. The final straw I had with Montag was when he killed Beatty. I understood why he was irritated with Beatty because he set him up to burn his own home, but really. He should have known from the beginning it was illegal to read books. If he just abided by the laws, he wouldn’t be a runaway murderer.      


  1. Bradbury, R. (1953). Fahrenheit 451. Ballantine Books.
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Why Does Montag Kill Beatty in "Fahrenheit 451"?. (2023, Aug 29). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/why-does-montag-kill-beatty-in-fahrenheit-451/