HomeLiterature Study GuidesFahrenheit 451Part 1 Montag At The Firehouse Summary

Fahrenheit 451 | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Part 1 | Montag at the Firehouse

Course Hero’s video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Part 1 | The Hearth and the Salamander (Montag at the Firehouse) of Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451.

Fahrenheit 451 | Part 1 (Montag at the Firehouse) : The Hearth and the Salamander | Summary

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Summary

Montag goes to work. He greets the Mechanical Hound, a sleeping killer android that resembles a dog. When Montag touches it, the Hound growls and looks at him with suspicion. A needle it uses to kill its prey emerges and retracts from the Hound's snout repeatedly, and the android follows Montag a few steps before returning to its kennel. Montag joins the rest of the firemen, who are playing cards, and reports the Hound doesn't like him. Captain Beatty, his boss, dismisses his concerns, but he agrees to have technicians check the android.

A week passes, and every day, Montag sees Clarisse as he leaves his home. Sometimes they talk, and she asks direct questions about why his life is the way it is. During one of these talks, Montag asks why she isn't in school, and she gives a long explanation about how she is antisocial. She says she likes to watch people and observes that most people don't talk about anything real or "they all say the same things and nobody says anything different from anyone else." She admits that she is afraid of other teenagers, who are shooting each other or dying in car wrecks while chasing each other at high speeds.

Analysis

Two of Montag's encounters in this section provide a fuller description of the society he lives in.

The first encounter provides a fuller picture of Montag's daily work life as he crosses paths with the symbolic and profoundly disturbing Mechanical Hound. The Hound is a paradox, for it "slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live." This resonates strongly with the people of this society, who drug themselves to sleep and live surrounded by television screens instead of real people. With its heightened senses, the Hound also knows Montag no longer belongs in the firehouse. The Hound's job is similar to that of the firemen. It sniffs out nonconformists and other threats to the social order.

The tradition of having a firehouse dog, usually a Dalmatian, dates back to the time when fire trucks were drawn by horses. The dog would keep the firemen company in the station and run alongside the fire truck to protect and calm the horses. The Mechanical Hound, on the other hand, is no one's friend. It exists to hunt and kill people who break the rules.

Clarisse's growing importance to Montag is shown in the way he notices her and what she does each day, and they establish a routine where she walks him to the corner daily. She continues her practice of asking frank, disturbing questions, as if they've been friends for years. This time she asks Montag why he doesn't have children, revealing another missing factor in his life.

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