Fahrenheit 451

Who is Montag?

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Guy Montag

The protagonist is a 30 year old fireman who makes his living by burning books and the houses where they are illegally kept. At the start of the novel, Montag seems to be the quintessential fireman; delighting in the work of burning books and homes, and believing himself a happy man. However, as the novel progresses, Montag becomes increasingly discontent as he realizes he has been living an empty, unfulfilling life. Initially, Montag is unsure of the cause behind his apathy for his wife, job, and the society in which he lives. Through his friendship with Clarisse McClellan, Montag comes to realize that he is not in love with his wife and that he is, in fact, disgusted with himself and those around him for choosing to embrace the unimportant, cosmetic façade of life rather than examine what lies beneath. During a certain alarm, Montag and the other firemen burn a woman alive in her own home, because she refuses to abandon her books. At this fire, Montag secretly takes a book home, something we soon learn he has done before. Following this horrific experience, Montag develops a psychosomatic ailment and questions whether he can continue in his line of work. Despite the constant bullying of his boss, Chief Beatty, Montag turns to Professor Faber, a man of books who Montag met once long ago, for guidance in his quest for knowledge. Montag's internal struggle and impatience for ignorance continue and are brought to a head when he finds himself on an alarm to burn his own home. Unable to contain his contempt any longer, Montag kills Chief Beatty and sets out to see Faber, his mentor, before fleeing police and certain death by floating down river. Montag completes his journey when he finds Granger and other like-minded book loving individuals along the train tracks. Together, Granger, Montag and the others witness an atomic blast that destroys the city, and begin on a quest to assist in the rebirth of a new society based on truth and knowledge.