In Fahrenheit 451, Beatty reveals something very important about himself and his knowledge. What is it?

Expert Answers
mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beatty reveals important information about the history of his profession, which is really a history of their society.  It opens Montag's eyes to how their society became so empty, miserable, and without real or grounding relationships or foundations.  In revealing this information though, Beatty exposes the fact that he is a very learned man, who has actually read thousands of books.  He is educated; he can quote books; he went through a rebellion, just like Montag is thinking of going through.  When we see Beatty, and learn about him, we don't pinpoint him as a man who at one point in time had doubts and questioned the integrity of his work; instead, we see him as a fierce chief, one who strictly believes and promotes the values of their current society.

This information about Beatty is revealed slowly, and we get the final bits of it in Montag's conversation with him at the fire house right before they are called to Montag's house.  He quotes line after line of literature at Montag, revealing just how learned he is.  At Montag's house, he reveals that he might have had quite a past with considering turning against the system himself.  This information is crucial, because it adds depth to Beatty, and shows us his dynamic character, and that he might not be the heartless captain that we thought he was. I hope those thoughts helped; good luck!

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Fahrenheit 451, it is clear that Beatty has read books and this revelation is all the more shocking when you consider his position as a captain in the fire service, the body responsible for the burning of books.

Beatty's knowledge of books is shown at numerous points in the story. In Part One, for example, Beatty and Montag attend a lady who chooses to be burned with her book collection. Before she dies, she quotes Hugh Latimer, an English martyr from history:

"Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

On their return to the firehouse, Montag asks about this quote and it is Beatty who provides the answer, proving that he is familiar with English history books.

Secondly, in Part Two, Beatty demonstrates his knowledge of Shakespeare in the moments before he is killed by Montag. He says to him, for example:

"There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats, for I am arm'd so strong in honesty that they pass by me as an idle wind, which I respect not!"

That he is so familiar with this passage from Julius Caesar suggests that he has read this play several times.