1) Clarisse, Montag's 17 year old neighbor, asks him if he is happy. This leads him to question himself and his life and his state of mind.
2) This is quickly followed by the discovery of Mildred, who has overdosed on sleeping pills. This reinforces Montag's new suspicion that no one in his world is actually happy.
3) The elderly lady burns herself in the pile of books Montag and his fellow firemen have been sent to destroy. Montag is so affected he spares one book to take home with him.
4) Montag goes to see Faber who helps to strengthen Montag's new belief about the importance of books and agrees to help sabotage the work of the firemen.
5) Captain Beatty, who knows of Montag's rebellious ideas, brings Montag to his own house and manages to bait him into burning it down.
6) Montag mistakenly kills Beatty, then turns the flames on the Mechanical Hound. He takes off, a fugitive.
7) Faber takes off for St. Louis and Montag takes off to the forest to keep himself from being arrested.
8) Montag meets the "book covers", a group of rebels who have each memorized an entire book for safe keeping. He turns back towards the city with them, caught up in their belief that civilization needs them.
Here are eight key events from Fahrenheit 451:
- Montag meets Clarisse, his seventeen-year-old neighbour, whose way of thinking is very different to his own. She is carefree and non-conformist and more interested in tasting the rain than driving fast in her Beetle.
- At work, Montag attends a house where the lady stays to be burned with her books. Montag is amazed by her sacrifice and steals one of her books.
- After Montag doesn't see Clarisse for a few days, Mildred reveals that she has died. This has a profound effect on Montag: the next day, for example, he develops a fever and misses work.
- Beatty visits Montag at home and explains that the people, not the government, introduced book-burning.
- Montag calls on Faber, a retired English professor, and forms an "insidious plan" to bring down the fireman system.
- Montag reads "Dover Beach" to his wife and her two friends, Mrs Phelps and Mrs Bowles. The poem's message reduces Mrs Phelps to tears because it reveals her empty and shallow existence.
- Mildred reports Montag's hidden collection of books and leaves him. After her departure, Montag kills Beatty.
- After fleeing the city, Montag meets some retired professors who have memorised books for future generations. Together, they watch the destruction of the city and prepare for its rebuilding.