In Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, what are Guy Montag's strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Montag likes to think.  In fact, that is what gets him in so much trouble.  It is also why he was drawn to Clarisse -- she was also someone who thought.

He dislikes the parlour walls more than anything.  I think this is because they are the opposite of thought.

His strength is that he has at least some amount of courage.  He starts to collect books even though he knows what could happen to him.

But his weakness is that he can't just shut up and keep it inside.  Why did he have to go and read poetry to those women?  Why did he try to talk about the war?

So these are my candidates for those traits.

tinicraw's profile pic

tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The opening lines of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 describe what Montag likes:

"It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed" (3).

Even though Montag questions his purpose and position as a fireman throughout the novel, he does like to see things burn. On the other hand, Montag does not like society's technological distractions such as Seashell ear thimbles and the parlor walls. These devices are used to distract or dissuade people from reading books or thinking about the superficial lives that they lead. Montag voices his frustration to Faber about his dislikes in the following passage:

"Nobody listens any more. I can't talk to the walls because they're yelling at me. I can't talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say" (82).

The frustration he feels about his dislikes leads Montag to discover his inner strengths. Montag's strengths are that he has the courage and determination to search for what is missing in his life. Faber calls Montag a "hopeless romantic" (82) because Montag has the desire to make a difference in the messed up world he lives in. Montag also has the courage to face Captain Beatty, the Mechanical Hound, and life outside of civilization.

One of Montag's weaknesses, however, is that he is easily provoked by Captain Beatty. Beatty intimidates Montag, which leads him to make mistakes. The biggest mistake that Montag makes because of his weakness of being easily provoked by Beatty is when he hoses his boss down with a flamethrower. Immediately after dousing Beatty with flames, Montag feels regret:

"He hadn't wanted to kill anyone, not even Beatty. His fleshed gripped him and shrank as if it had been plunged in acid. He gagged. He saw Beatty, a torch, not moving, fluttering out on the grass. He bit at his knuckles. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, oh God, sorry" (123).


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