In Fahrenheit 451, what did Montag believe had been done to the Mechanical Hound?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When Montag reports for work one evening, the Mechanical Hound reacts to him by growling.

After his wife takes too many pills the night before, Montag encounters Clarisse again as she walks with her head up so she can feel the drops of rain. She tells Montag that she is on the way to see the psychiatrist whom she is forced to visit. Once she leaves, Montag tilts his head back into the rain, curious now about experiencing new sensations.

Soon, he arrives at the firehouse, and the mechanical Hound growls at Montag; causing him to jump back in fear.

The Hound half rose in its kennel and looked at him with green-blue neon light flickering in its suddenly activated eye bulbs. 

Then, it growls again. Now Montag becomes very nervous as the Hound extends its silver needle that senses things. When Captain Beatty calls to Montag, Montag comments, "It doesn't like me."

Beatty disabuses him of this idea by telling him the Hound is incapable of emotions. But Montag, knowing that the chemical balances and percentages are recorded in a master file, theorizes that because of the availability of this information, someone could easily program the Hound's memory and set it so that it would growl whenever he touches it. Montag adds that this is not the first time that the Hound has threatened him.

Further, Montag now feels anxiety about his ventilator grill at home where he has hidden some books. He privately ponders that if someone knows about the ventilator he could "tell" the Hound. While Montag deliberates, Beatty watches him. "....You got a guilty conscience about something?" he asks. Startled, Montag looks up swiftly. But Beatty stands there steadily watching. Then his mouth opens, and he begins to laugh quite softly.

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kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 2) Educator

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Early in Part One of Fahrenheit 451, Montag is at the station when he has a run-in with the Mechanical Hound. The Hound appears to "react" to him by growling and extending its needle. This leads Montag to believe that somebody has messed with the Hound's controls, as he explains to Captain Beatty:

It would be easy for someone to set up a partial combination on the Hound's memory, a touch of amino acids, perhaps. That would account for what the animal did just now. Reacted toward me.

Montag then reveals that the Hound has reacted in this same manner on two other occasions:

This isn't the first time it's threatened me…Last month it happened twice.

In this case, Montag's paranoia is symptomatic of his transformation from contented fireman to social outsider. He realizes that society's censorship is the real problem, not the books that it burns, and he is understandably nervous about displaying this sentiment. If he openly admits the way he is feeling, for example, he risks a lot. This explains his fears about the Hound: he worries that it can sense his rebellion. 

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ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In Fahrenheit 451Montag is very uncomfortable with the mechanical hound.  He believes they have been specifically programed to zone in on his chemical smell.  The hound had to be programed and then they would try to destroy the subject they had been programed to attack.

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