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The Mechanical Hound is first described early in the first part of the book. The hound is a life-like piece of technology that sniffs out illegal books, hunts down criminals, and incapacitates criminals with its needle, that extends from its nose, filled with procaine or morphine. Its described as living, but not living because it is so real looking and acting that it seems like it's alive. It is made of copper, brass, and steel. It has ruby glass and capillary hairs in nylon-brushed nostrils. If strays from looking like a real dog though in that it has 8 insect-like legs. It is a malevolent creature to Montag though as it growls at him as he passes. Its eyes are green-blue neon, multi-faceted light bulbs. When it "sleeps" it makes noises like an electrical sizzle or frying sound. Its computers can be set to detect many levels of chemical components.
In addition to the above description, the Mechanical Hound serves to foreshadow that Beatty is on to Montag. It can also symbolize the cruel and intolerant society in which Montag lives. Like Mildred when she watches TV or listens to her seashell, the Hound appears to be mindless and without a soul.
Recall too that early on in the novel, Montag arrives at the firehouse and the Hound seems to recognize and dislike him. This can be read as an early warning to Montag about the change or awakening he is beginning to undergo as a result of meeting Clarisse.
Recall too how the firemen often set the Hound loose on rats and bet on how long it will take to kill them. This sickens Montag. However, notice how similar this little scene is to the climax of the novel where Montag is fleeing from the Hound and his escape is being broadcast on TV around the city and people are watching betting on when the Hound will catch him.
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