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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the first section, "The Hearth and the Salamander", Beatty comes to Montag's home when Montag doesn't report to work due to illness.  The real reason Montag hasn't gone to work is because he is beginning to question what he and the other firemen are doing.  The day before, they had burned down a woman's home with the woman in it because she set fire to herself rather than watch her books burn.  Beatty tells Montag he just stopped by to see how "..the sick man was is."  Beatty starts to tell Montag about the reason why they burn books.  He takes Montag through the complete change in society and the reasons for those changes.  He tries to make the reasons sound very logical and good.  He knows, somehow, that Montag is beginning to question his line of work and the government. Finally Beatty tells Montag that every fireman, at least once, gets an itch to see what the books say, to take one home to read it to see what is so terrible in the books.  He tells Montag that this is only natural and that the authorities recognize that fact and allow for it.  Beatty says that as long as the fireman burns the book himself within 24 hours, there is no problem.  Of course, Beatty is warning Montag.  He knows that Montag has books in his possession.  He is being very sly with this conversation, careful to never actually accuse Montag of anything, yet letting Montag realize that Beatty is aware of what Montag is thinking.