In Fahrenheit 451, what does Montag do with the book that he stole?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montag hides the book under his pillow.

Montag always liked being a fireman, and felt no shame, until Clarisse got him to question his life by asking him if he was happy.  Then, when he went on call to Mrs. Blake’s house, the call was different.  Mrs. Blake put up a fight, and it made him wonder what was so important about books that a person would be willing to risk his or her life for them.

When Montag and the fire crew arrive at Mrs. Blake’s house, it is already different because she is still there.  Also, there are so many books he feels as if he is being attacked by them.  The woman will not give up her books.

During the chaos, Montag grabs a book.  It is almost as if it is an involuntary reflex.

Montag had done nothing. His hand had done it all, his hand, with a brain of its own, with a conscience and a curiosity in each trembling finger, had turned thief.. Now, it plunged the book back under his arm … (Part I)

As the chaos continues, Montag sneaks a peak at the book, and continues to think of what he is doing as if he is not the one doing it.  In the meantime, he tries to get the woman out.

 "Come on, woman!"

The woman knelt among the books, touching the drenched leather and cardboard, reading the gilt titles with her fingers while her eyes accused Montag.

"You can't ever have my books," she said

"You know the law," said Beatty. "Where's your common sense?  None of those books agree with each other. …”(Part I)

The woman stays with her books as Beatty lectures her, and will not give up.  She decides to go up in flames with her books.  Montag ponders that, as Beatty tells him that “these fanatics always try suicide.”  Montag thinks of the book he is stealing, and wonders if the calls only come in at night because fire is prettier at night, and a bigger spectacle.  He keeps the book hidden, where it feels like a second heartbeat.

When Montag gets home, he puts the book under his pillow.  He is frightened and confused by what he has seen.  His wife Mildred is not much help.  She is part of a society that he does not understand anymore.  He tries to talk to her, but it is pointless.

The next day, Montag feels sick.  He tells Mildred to call in for him, and this gets him a visit from Beatty. 

Montag made sure the book was well hidden behind the pillow, climbed slowly back into bed, arranged the covers over his knees and across his chest, half-sitting, and after a while Mildred moved and went out of the room and Captain Beatty strolled in, his hands in his pockets. (Part I)

Captain Beatty knows something is up, and he gives Montag a lecture about how burning books is just.  Montag does not buy it though.  He is no longer willing to be a fireman.  He decides to look up a professor named Faber and get a substitute book to turn in.

Montag is in crisis when he steals this book.  His society is one in which everyone goes fast and thinks not at all.  They watch television and do not really talk to each other.  Montag has decided that if a woman is willing to risk her life for a book, then a book is worth looking into.