In Fahrenheit 451 when does Montag's dissatisfication with his life situation begin and why?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Bradbury's science-fiction narrative, Montag is dissatisfied with his life much before he realizes that he is. In Chapter 1 after he has finished burning some books, he senses the presence of the pedestrian, Clarisse McClellan, who has been watching from around the corner. As he walks down the street with her, she talks of odd things, like noticing the colors of things. Once near her house, Montag notices all the lights on inside; confused by this, he asks Clarisse what is happening. To Montag's surprise, she tells him that the family sits around and talks to each other in the evening.

...."It's like being a pedestrian, only rarer. My uncle was arrested another time-did I tell you?-for being a pedestrian. Oh, we're most peculiar."

Montag's encounter with Clarisse stirs his interest and his discontent with his life. After he returns to his own home, Montag has to call the emergency hospital to come and pump her stomach because she has taken too many sleeping pills; however, the next day, she fails to remember anything, returning to her watching the mindless television watching. In the next days, Montag talks with Clarisse and they speak of the moral emptiness of their society, but one day she is gone. It is her disappearance that makes Montag re-evaluate his life. He looks at his wife's vacuous behavior, measuring it against Clarisse's and feels that something is sadly missing in his life.

At the next fire, when the owner of the books is willing to die with them, Montag wonders at the hold that these books have upon people; consequently, out of curiosity, he sneaks some home with him. But, when he reads one to Mildred, she does not respond, unable to appreciate thought of any depth. It is then that Montag seeks the professor, Faber, who explains to him the great gifts of understanding and enrichment that books offer. Then, Montag begins to understand that books lend depth to his thoughts, and without them he is dissatisfied with his job and marriage to Mildred.