How does Beatty respond to Montag when he returns to the firehouse in Fahrenheit 451?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Beatty treats Montag with derision when he returns to the firehouse after staying away.

When Montag returns to the firehouse, Beatty harasses him and is fully aware that he is not convinced that books are really worthless.  He tried to talk Montag out of it when he stayed home “sick.”  Yet he seems fully aware that the lecture fell on deaf ears.

"Well," he said to the men playing cards, "here comes a very strange beast which in all tongues is called a fool." (Part II)

Beatty holds out his hand for the book, and Montag puts into his hand.  Ironically, Beatty quotes first Shakespeare and then a poem by John Donne when calling Montag a fool.  Clearly books are not without merit.  Is he mocking or testing Montag?

Montag is aware that he is heading into the hornet’s nest.  He is hoping to get some information that can be used to save the books.  By using Faber’s special radio, he thinks he can outsmart Beatty and the other fireman, and the rest of his society.  The risks are huge, but he is disenchanted with his own society, and willing to do whatever it takes in order to save what he considers more precious than his own life—the written word.

Montag has gone from enjoying fighting fires and knowing nothing about his society to caring more about books than himself.  He values the culture and the human tradition inherent in the books, and will do anything to save it.  He sought out Faber when he realized that the old lady would die for her books.  It made him wonder what was in those books.  Of course, Montag’s argument with Beatty soon comes to a head, and Montag is forced to take a stand.  This results in Beatty’s death, and Montag’s fleeing. 

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