In "Fahrenheit 451" compare and contrast Montag and Beatty. What do they have in common?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montag and Captain Beatty share several similarities in the novel Fahrenheit 451. Both characters are part of the fireman structure, which censors literature by burning books. Captain Beatty is in charge of the firefighters, and Montag spends the majority of his life burning books. Both characters have also experienced curiosity towards the world of literature and various texts. Captain Beatty admits that he too felt curious and decided to read a few books when he was younger. Both characters have also questioned their society at one point in their lives, and Captain Beatty and Montag have both been affected by the literature they've read. Towards the end of Part II, Beatty tells Montag,

"Read a few lines and off you go over the cliff. Bang, you're ready to blow up the world, chop off heads, knock down women and children, destroy authority. I know, I've been through it all." (Bradbury, 50)

Despite their many similarities, Captain Beatty has chosen to side with the majority, who wish to censor all literature. Unlike Montag, Captain Beatty has been jaded and confused by the literature he has read. Beatty tells Montag,

"What traitors books can be! You think they're backing you up, and they turn on you. Others can use them, too, and there you are, lost in the middle of the moor, in a great welter of nouns and verbs and adjectives." (51)

In contrast, Montag decides to follow his heart and gravitates towards literature instead of against it. Montag favors individuality over conforming to the majority and decides to engage in intellectual pursuits by continuing to read books.

mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

They have more in common than you might think when looking at the ending and how that turned out.  Other than both being firemen, they have both read books, and had that curiosity about books.  Beatty even admits this to Montag; he states that he himself was once like Montag, who "read a few lines and off you go over the cliff.  Bang, you're ready to blow up the world...I know, I've been through it all." So he's read some books and felt that change of heart that Montag is experiencing, and that desire to change the awfulness that exists in the world.  Montag feels that desire also, and it leads him into disillusionment and rebellion, and to eventually completely turn against his entire world and life.  Beatty however, seems to have delved into books and then formed the bitter opinion that "What traitors  books can be!  You think they're backing you up, and they turn on you."  He thinks that they end up just being words that anyone can use to their purpose.  Knowledge is useless because it doesn't do anything-it's just words people throw at each other.  So, he goes back to burning books, possibly with more vengeance than before.

Montag and Beatty are both men of strong passions, more educated than the average person in their society, and familiar with a different choice for society.  However, Montag embraces that choice, and Beatty rejects it. 

thesmartone10901 | Student

Although Montag and Beatty are quite alike and different in ways, Bradbury had another character to be compared to Beatty; Granger. Just like a lot of other things in the book, the two characters are almost polar opposites; Beatty is the fire chief and hence is destroying all knowledge while Granger, leader of the "hobo knowledge seekers" presrves the knowledge. Granger doesn't follow the rule while Beatty is an extreme stickler for them

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Fahrenheit 451

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