In "Fahrenheit 451", why does Beatty taunt Montag?

Expert Answers

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Beatty taunts Montag after an alarm is called in on his own house.  Montag suspects that his wife has called in the alarm, his boss, Beatty instructs him to burn his own house.  He warns him that the mechanical hound is after him and that if he tries to escape the hound will catch him.

"Captain Beatty baits and teases Montag until Montag burns his own house down. All this time, Faber has been trying to help Montag by whispering in his ear, but now Beatty discovers the ear-radio and takes it away."

Beatty has vast literary knowledge and teases and taunts Montag with quotes that he has memorized, angering the fireman even more. Beatty sums up their society's desire for destruction and the sanitizing of the human spirit through the use of fire to burn all books, which are considered dangerous, to make everyone equal with these words:

"It's perpetual motion; the thing man wanted to invent but never did. . . . It's a mystery. . . . Its real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences . . . clean, quick, sure; nothing to rot later. Antibiotic, aesthetic, practical." (Bradbury)

Until, Montag, in his new found passion for books, knowledge and the way life was before the fireman became destroyers instead of rescuers, turns his flamethrower on Beatty and kills him.



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