Trace the steps in "Fahrenheit 451" that lead to Montag’s decision to preserve books rather than destroy them

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Montag was curious about books even before the story began. We know from the very beginning that he had stolen a book or two and hidden them in the ventilator grille.  Clarisse than begins talking to him and subtly points out some of the faults in the society.  That makes Montag begin to question his life. The turning point comes when the old woman won't give up her books; she'd rather burn with them than live without them.  That makes Montag realize that "There must be something in books."  Beatty tells Montag how the society came to be what it is which has the effect of "reverse psychology" in that Montag sees what Beatty praises as good changes as actually very bad changes.  At this point, Montag has changed, but he hasn't decided what to do about this change in him until he talks with Faber.  Then Montag becomes convinced that their society must be brought down from the inside out.  He wants to incriminate the firemen.  When that plan fails and he kills Beatty, then the only course of action left to Montag is to flee and join the book people.

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gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Montag had already begun to stash illegal books in the ventilator of his home. After meeting Clarisse, Montag realizes that he is truly unhappy. Montag begins to detest both his job and marriage. One day, Montag arrives at a scene where a woman has an illegal library. While the firemen begin to burn her collection of novels, Montag steals a book. He then witnesses the woman commit suicide with her books. This traumatic moment leaves an impression on Montag and suggests to him that books contain valuable information. At his home, Montag attempts to read and understand some of the books that he had stashed in his ventilator. Unable to comprehend the texts, Montag decides to travel to Faber's home and ask for his help. Montag arrives at Faber's home and explains his feelings of hopelessness and confusion. He also describes his intrigue and motivation to learn. Faber agrees to help Montag by giving him a two-way communication device. After visiting with Faber, Montag has a made a conscious decision to not go back to destroying books. Later on in the novel, Montag becomes a fugitive after he kills Captain Beatty and seeks refuge with a group of hobo intellectuals. Granger, the leader of the hobo intellectuals, teaches Montag how to preserve books in his memory in hopes of one day rebuilding a literate society. 

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