What are direct quotes from Fahrenheit 451 that give insight into Montag?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The following quotes were picked in chronological order to show Montag's dynamic journey from being a fireman who burns books to a reader who wants to defend them:

"It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed" (3).

The above passage demonstrates that Montag starts out being all things fireman. He likes his job; he fulfills his duties; and he doesn't think twice about it. Once he meets Clarisse, though, things change. She starts to make him think about what firemen used to really do. Montag slips at work, though, and wonders these things aloud as in the following quote:

"Montag hesitated. 'Was--was it always like this? The firehouse ,our work? I mean, well, once upon a time. . .'

'Once upon a time!' Beatty said. 'What kind of talk is that?'" (34).

This vocal slip lets his boss Captain Beatty know what he's probably already been guessing--that Montag is reading. No one would have used that phrase without having read some fairy tales.

"There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't stay for nothing" (51).

A turning point for Montag, though, is when a lady burns herself with her books and her house. It is unfathomable to Montag for someone actually to choose to die by fire all in protest over some books! When once he dabbled in reading, now he wants to know what books can really offer him; and, he wants to see if they have something that will improve his life.

"Nobody listens any more. I can't talk to the walls because they're yelling at me. I can't talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it'll make sense" (82).

Montag's life, he realizes, is depressing because he doesn't have children, he doesn't know and love his wife like he feels he should, and he doesn't know what direction he should be heading. He's amazed that TV and radio have distracted him and his wife so much that they have forgotten how, when, and where they first met.

"'Well,' said Beatty, 'now you did it. Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that he's burnt his damn wings, he wonders why'" (113).

This last quote finds Montag caught for his crimes of owning and reading books. Again, these five quotes could be used to show Montag's dissention from being a law-abiding fireman to a criminal within Bradbury's dystopian society.