Captain Beatty visits Montag when he realizes that Montag is having an internal struggle with his role as a fireman. He explains the fireman's primary role is to protect the people from unhappiness which arises from the ideas in the books. Books represent the freedom of ideas which are very troublesome because they create conflict and uncertainty. The fireman's role was to burn the books and thus extinguish the unhappiness that accompanied the books. Beatty likens books to a loaded gun. He states:
You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally bright,' did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn't it this bright boy you selected for beatings, and tortures after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone is born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone is made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it.