Fahrenheit 451 Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 book cover
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In Fahrenheit 451, how does Montag feel about burning his own house?

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Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the beginning of Part Three, Beatty tells Montag to burn down his house with a flamethrower. Initially, Faber (listening in on the conversation) asks Montag if he can run away, but Montag knows he cannot escape because the Hound is somewhere in the vicinity.

Despite some initial reluctance, Montag has no choice but to go inside with the flamethrower, and his reaction to this task is surprisingly positive, as we see in the text:

And as before, it was good to burn, he felt himself gush out in the fire, snatch, rend, rip in half with flame, and put away the senseless problem.

Setting fire to his possessions is, perhaps, cathartic for Montag. As he watches his home burn, he is released from the burden of living a double life in which he had to balance his duties as a fireman with his increasing desire to bring censorship in his society to an end. Thanks to the fire, he no longer has to worry about hiding his books, nor does he have to listen to the constant noise of the parlor walls. His marriage, too, is over, since Mildred has already left.

Burning his home gives Montag a second chance. He can now put his plans with Faber into action. But, in order to take that chance, he must first evade Beatty and the Hound.

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Asher Wismer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When forced to burn his own house by Chief Beatty, Montag feels conflicting emotions. He is sorry to burn the books, sorry to burn his house itself in some ways because it still has happy memories for him. He is also filled with rage about being turned in by Mildred and filled with angry joy at being able to destroy the parlour television screens, which he hates so much.

And as before, it was good to burn, he felt himself gush out in the fire, snatch, rend, rip in half with flame, and put away the senseless problem. If there was no solution, well then now there was no problem, either. Fire was best for everything!
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

He returns, in a way, to the joy he took in burning at the beginning of the book, but does not have the visceral reaction he had to burning books themselves; instead, he feels the need to destroy everything, since everything -- not just television, not just books -- is part of the problem. The burning is liberating because everything that ties him to the city is destroyed; it is emotionally trying because he feels a connection to the books; it is joyous because he is finally able to escape convention and conformity and do something wrong in public, without condemnation.

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olivia55 | Student

Montag remains emotionally detached in this section. He enjoys burning his own house as much as he enjoyed burning those of others, and he begins to agree with Beatty that fire is removing his problems.