How does the plot of Fahrenheit 451 contribute to the development of the character Montag?

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hmassman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Great question! In Fahrenheit 451, Montag’s character develops throughout the book.

Initially, the book presents Montag as a fairly basic character. Montag works, goes home, and lives out his life. He laughs off questions and does not seem to notice or question his environment. As the text reveals:

“He walked toward the corner, thinking little at all about nothing in particular.”

Subsequently as the book progresses, Montag becomes more aware of his environment. Within the story’s plot, he meets a young girl who encourages him to question and think. Furthermore, his wife’s almost death encourages his thoughts as well. He begins to consider the purpose or reasoning of his life and his society. Montag becomes unable to laugh off different situations. As Montag explains:

“I’m so mad and I don’t know why. I feel like I’m putting on weight. I feel fat. I feel like I’ve been saving up a lot of things, and don’t know what. I might even start reading books.”

Finally, after the death of his young friend and time in contemplation, the plot encourages Montag to act. His boss discovers Montag’s hidden books. He is forced to act on his thoughts and run. Soon, he becomes an outcast and finds a group of men who also have questioned the current society. He joins them in hopes that the culture will soon become aware of reality.

Thus, through the plot, Montag’s character develops from an average citizen to an outcast of society. He originally accepts his environment with no hesitation and later becomes more inquisitive. Although this change does not happen immediately, Montag is gradually transformed through the plot.