HomeLiterature Study GuidesFahrenheit 451Part 3 Montag Burns His House Summary

Fahrenheit 451 | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Part 3 | Montag Burns His House

Course Hero’s video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Part 3 | Burning Bright (Montag Burns His House) of Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451.

Fahrenheit 451 | Part 3 (Montag Burns His House) : Burning Bright | Summary

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Summary

Part 3 takes its name from a poem by Romantic poet William Blake, "The Tyger." The first lines are "Tyger, tyger, burning bright/In the forests of the night." A brightly burning fire again has a dual nature, with the power to destroy and to illuminate.

In this section Captain Beatty notices Montag looking at Clarisse's house and mocks Clarisse for being a "do-gooder" whose "one talent" is "making others feel guilty." Mildred leaves in a cab, and Montag calls to her, asking if she put in the alarm. She doesn't reply, instead bemoaning her "poor (television) family." Faber speaks to Montag through the audio capsule, trying to help him, but the scene is chaotic. Beatty urges Montag to burn his own house. As Montag torches it with his flamethrower, he feels a sense of release. Beatty then puts him under arrest. When Montag asks Beatty if Mildred had turned him in, Beatty confirms that she did, adding that one of her friends had also done so.

Beatty quizzes Montag on why he took the books and then hits Montag on the head. The audio capsule Montag has in his ear to communicate with Faber falls out, and Beatty tells Montag they will track the other person down. As Montag flicks off the safety catch on his flamethrower, Beatty does not protest. Instead he continues to mock Montag. Montag blasts him with the flamethrower and sets him on fire and then knocks two other firemen unconscious. The Mechanical Hound attacks Montag, injecting his leg with a dose of chemicals before Montag sets the Hound on fire as well. The injection numbs Montag's leg.

Analysis

Beatty's death highlights the contrast between Beatty and Montag. Beatty's primary objection to literature is that it is contradictory and has the potential to cause conflict. He rejects the process of intellectual rigor needed to question the texts and draw conclusions of one's own. When Montag flicks the safety switch off on his flamethrower, Beatty responds not with fear but by taunting Montag, throwing dismissive literary quotations at him and calling him a "second-hand litterateur." In doing so, Beatty knowingly provokes his own murder at Montag's hands. The battle is one of intellect—the man who is willing to do the hard work of thinking incinerates the man who is not for the good of society. It is as if Beatty at the end recognizes the weakness of his position. As long as people such as Montag, Faber, and Granger exist, Beatty's position is not defensible. The thinkers will inevitably rise up to assert their power over thought and individuality, and men such as Beatty will grow weary of the fight.

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