Fahrenheit 451


Part 1

Montag is a man whose profession as fireman is to burn books. Montag enjoys his job. One night, after he has completed a book burning and is returning home, he encounters a pedestrian. This was a girl of seventeen, his new neighbor named Clarissa McClellan, who questions him about his job and casually informs him that a long time ago, firemen put out fires instead of kindling them. The girl makes Montag uneasy because she thinks too much and perplexes him with her thoughts. She informs him that her parents and uncle enjoy sitting around talking and then, before disappearing, asks him simply if he is happy.

Entering his house, he finds that his wife, Mildred, has swallowed too many sleeping capsules and summons the Emergency Hospital. Two impersonal operators arrive, and Montag is disturbed by the callous, detached manner with which these operators treat the patient. The operators say that since so many people need their help, they had special machines built to service them.

Mildred recovers. She denies taking the sleeping pills. Montag finds himself unable to stop thinking about Clarissa and her unusual family.

He encounters Clarissa again walking in the rain. Her perplexing conversation titillates him and makes him think. She informs him that she goes to a psychiatrist for walking around and watching nature. She comments that she thinks it incompatible with his character that he is a fireman.

Back at the firehouse, Montag feels uneasy with the Mechanical Hound, who seems to dislike him. Montag has a secret that he is afraid the Hound senses, particularly since the Hound is programmed to search out its targets.

Clarissa accompanies Montag almost every day, talking to him about nature, but one day she disappears.

At about the same time, Montag is summoned to a house where someone reported a forbidden stock of books. Mrs. Blake, the possessor of the books, prefers to be burned with her books rather than escape. Montag, disturbed by the debacle, manages surreptitiously to hide one volume from the carnage.


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