The Changes of Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451
Guy Montag, the main character in the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, is a man lacking a sense of any worries or cares in the world. Apparently, that is the way to live in their society, in which they are blinded by the power that the government has over their lives. His occupation is firefighting, however, he is not the modern day firefighter. Montag doesn’t stop the fires, he helps ignite them. The reason behind that is, within their society they are not allowed to read books or have knowledge previous to their era. This law is enforced with such intensity because, the government fears that knowledge in one’s mind will contribute to overthrowing whomever is in control or has the most power within that society. Despite the structure of the government, Montag has no problem with it and executes his job wholeheartedly, but only for a short amount of time.
Within the beginning of this novel, Montag was a dedicated worker, one who takes pride in his job. One day as he is walking home from work, he meets a girl named Clarisse McClellan. A loner one would call her, she is a reader, which is puts Montag in a awkward place because the books she reads, he has to burn, but she asks him, “Do you ever read any of the books you burn?” (8). He chuckles, only to find that she is not laughing along with him, the question she asked was with all honesty. This kind of changes his point of view on certain things or things he wants to know.
“Are you happy?” (10). This question is the peek of what is to come, Montag takes some time to analyze his life and where is. Something more is out there and he wants to know about it, being oblivious to the world around him is not satisfying. While doing this he does not make any drastic changes within his life. However he begins to look at things a little differently.
Montag is also a married man, however being married in their era is entirely different from being married in our era. After his encounter with Clarisse he heads home just to find his wife lying unconscious, she has overdosed on sleeping pills, again. “Got to clean ’em out both ways,” said the operator, standing over the silent woman. “No use getting the stomach if you don’t clean the blood, Leave that stuff in the blood and the blood hits the brain like a mallet, bang, a couple thousand times and the brain just gives up, just quits.” (15) The operator is the man who operates the machines that are used to pump Mildred’s stomach to remove all the harmful substances, replace her blood and serum. The next day, Mildred is completely unaware of what took place the night before. Obviously, her overdosing is a normal thing and she is just as nonchalant about it as the next guy.
Montag’s job, plays a big role in the changes he undergoes throughout the novel. These changes were mainly influenced by the pressures of his co-workers, more so his boss. The Captain of the Fire House, Captain Beatty is Montag’s boss and tries to gain knowledge to hinder his belief that Montag is in possession of a book. Until then, he just continues to do his job, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do. There are other moments within the novel that alter Montag’s state of mind , not only mentally but physically. “You can’t ever have my books,” (38), while Montag and his co-workers are on a job, they come to a house where there is still an aged woman living inside. She refuses to leave her books there so she decides to stay there as they attempt to burn the house down. “You can stop counting,” she said. “She opened the fingers of one hand slightly and in the palm of the hand was a single slender object. An ordinary kitchen match.” (39). Instead of letting the firemen burn her books, she burns them herself, thus committing suicide. Montag has a complicated time coping with happened and his mental state isn’t the same, it isn’t as it used to be.
These events cause Montag to wonder, what was so great about those books that would cause someone to commit suicide for them. His curiosity begins to get the best of him, whenever he has a house to burn, he takes one book and keeps it, though he never reads it. This is ammo for Captain Beatty because he begins to get suspicious and now decides to sends warnings to Montag. “A natural error. Curiosity alone,” said Beatty “We don’t get over anxious or mad. We let the firemen keep the book for twenty four hours. If he hasn’t burned it by then, we simply come burn it for him.” (62). That was warning number one, and also a hint to Beatty that Montag is in possession of a book.
Montag also recollects on meeting a retired english professor named Faber. He was very impressed by the way that Faber spoke to him. They talked about meaningful things, not just what was on television the night before. Faber becomes a good friend of Montag and is aware that Montag is in possession of books. He later becomes his partner in crime when it comes to keeping the books a secret from Beatty. Montag knows that Beatty is coming to burn down his house, however he sustains the same pride as the aged old woman did when Montag and his co-workers burned down her houses. He wasn’t going to let anybody take away his new life or new way of living.
Montag is in more of a survival mode, now than ever. He feels he has to protect what is his. In while doing so, he kills Beatty as he tries to burn down his house. Though he says it was an accident, deep down the reader can tell that Montag secretly wanted to kill Beatty. This is the end of the novel and now you know Montag to be a completely different person from the beginning of the novel.
Guy Montag a character in the novel Fahrenheit 451, is a changed man. Although it might not be in a positive way, the reader got to witness, step by step how Montag evolved. Whether it was through his marriage, his job or just himself as a whole. Montag is a new person at the end of the novel, who finally has his own view on life.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451: The Temperature at Which Books Burn. New York: Ballantine, 1991. Print.