What is Beatty's purpose in reciting passages from great authors and thinkers?

Expert Answers
schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order for Beatty to recite those passages, he had to have read the books.  He is trying to confuse Montag, but the passages also show an inner conflict within himself.  He tells Montag,

"Read a few lines and off you go over the cliff.  Bang, you're ready to blow up the world, chop off heads, knock down a few women and children, destroy authority.  I know, I've been through it all." (pg 106)

He then tells Montag about a dream he had an hour ago.  In this dream Montag and Beatty get into a debate about books. He tells Montag that he was yelling quotes from books at him in this dream, and he was able to fight back with similar quotes supporting the opposite side of the idea.  He goes into a tirade quoting different authors and opposite opinions of the same author.  By the time he is finished, Montag's head is spinning, and he is very confused.  Beatty says,

"What traitors books can be! You think they're backing you up, and they turn on you.  Others can use them too, and there you are. lost in the middle of the moor, in a great welter of nouns and verbs and adjectives." (pg 107)

Beatty's purpose is to show that reading can lead to confusion and chaos because quotes from authors can be used by people on both sides.  His dream is actually an argument with himself using the same authors to fight a battle of words and ideas.  Beatty even tells Montag,

"Stick with the firemen, Montag.  All else is dreary chaos." (pg 106)

Faber is listening on the earpiece, and he tells Montag,

"But remember that the Captain belongs to the most dangerous enemy to truth and freedom, the solid unmoving cattle of the majority." (pg 108)

Beatty has made his decision to stay with the majority,but he is haunted by his conflicting ideas.