Montag is compared to Icarus when Beatty takes him on the mission to burn down Montag's own house. This is the moment at which readers understand that Montag has reached the point of no return. Although Beatty has been aware of Montag's transgressions concerning the keeping and reading of books...
Montag is compared to Icarus when Beatty takes him on the mission to burn down Montag's own house. This is the moment at which readers understand that Montag has reached the point of no return. Although Beatty has been aware of Montag's transgressions concerning the keeping and reading of books for some time, he had tolerated them, seemingly in the hope that Montag will get them out of his system and become more loyal than ever.
Beatty himself is an example of that. Beatty obviously has read books; he even admits this to Montag. However, reading books has not caused Beatty to rebel from the system. After reading them, he claims to have discovered how harmful they are and has become even more dedicated to his job of burning them.
In Greek mythology, Icarus and his father Daedalus, the man who designed the labyrinth below the palace in Crete, have been imprisoned by King Minos. So that he and his son can escape, Daedalus fashions wings made out of feathers, wax, and wooden frames. With these they hope to fly to safety from the island of Crete to the Greek mainland. Daedalus warns his son to follow a middle course while flying. If he flies too low, seawater will soak through the feathers and wood and he will drown, but if he flies too high, the heat of the sun will melt the wax in the wings and he will fall from the air and perish. According to the myth, Daedalus and Icarus successfully make their escape. However, Icarus becomes overconfident and continues to ascend until the sun melts the wax, he falls, and dies as he hits the water.
It is important to point out that Bradbury does not make the comparison between Montag and Icarus in the descriptive text; instead, Beatty makes it in dialog. One reason that Beatty does it is to taunt and mock Montag using examples from literature, as he has done before. The comparison is significant for several reasons. The prison on Crete is like the system that prevents people from learning and expanding their minds. The escape of Daedalus and Icarus is like the rebellious act of keeping and reading books. Daedalus warns Icarus against flying too high just as Beatty warns Montag against becoming too infatuated with books. Beatty is willing to overlook a moderate departure from societal norms, but not outright rebellion. However, once Montag gets a taste of the true freedom that books impart, he wants more and more of it. In Beatty's view, this is like Icarus flying too high. He is doomed to fall.
This analogy to Icarus shows that Montag has developed from a compliant pawn of the oppressive system into an individual who longs for the freedom that education can give him. Beatty is convinced that this hunger for freedom will doom Montag, but unlike Icarus, Montag makes his escape safely and continues his quest for knowledge.