Identify a description of Beatty in Fahrenheit 451.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Different versions of the text will always be different, so exact page numbers might not be as important as sections.  In Part I of the text, "The Hearth and the Salamander," offers the first description of Beatty.  In this scene, Montag has come into the firehouse.  He is confronted by the growling and skeptical hound.  While Montag is trying to calm down the hound who senses something is not right with Montag, a description of Beatty is offered:  Only the man with the Captain's hat and the sign of the Phoenix on his hat, at last, curious, his playing cards in his thin hand, talked across the long room."  This description of Beatty is significant for a couple of reasons.  The first is the inclusion of the Captain's hat.  Through such a description, it becomes clear that Beatty possesses power. Him sitting at a card table in the midst of a card game is a literal reflection of how Beatty "holds all the cards."  

The element of power in Beatty's description is also significant.  Beatty has power and this is conveyed in Bradbury's initial description of the Captain.  The way that Beatty "talks across the long room" is another significant part of the description.  It communicates how Beatty commands everything around him.  The geometric dimension of the room is not a limitation on Beatty's directives as well as the presence he exudes. This is confirmed with a later description of Beatty as he stares down Montag:  "...steadily with his eyes, while his mouth opened and began to laugh, very softly."  Beatty is described in a manner as if he is creating the rules as he speaks them.  He exudes that much power as Montag's superior in a setting that does not question the construction of power.  It is in this light where Beatty's initial descriptions are significant in the characterization that Bradbury offers.