What lie did Captain Beatty tell Montag?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The two biggest lies Captain Beatty tells Montag concern the dangers of reading books and the insignificance of pursuing knowledge. When Montag refuses to go to work, Captain Beatty becomes suspicious and visits Montag's home in an attempt to discourage Montag from pursuing knowledge and reading literature. Captain Beatty proceeds to explain to Montag why a society without books and authors is ideal. Captain Beatty then lies to Montag by saying,

"A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man's mind" (Bradbury, 28).

Essentially, Captain Beatty lies to Montag by telling him that literature does more harm than good. Beatty believes that education in the literary arts creates division and conflict throughout society, which is a lie. Captain Beatty once again lies to Montag by telling him,

"I've had to read a few in my time, to know what I was about, and the books say nothing! Nothing you can teach or believe. They're about non-existent people, figments of imagination, if they're fiction. And if they're non-fiction, it's worse, one professor calling another an idiot, one philosopher screaming down another's gullet. All of them running about, putting out the stars and extinguishing the sun. You come away lost" (Bradbury, 30).

Captain Beatty's assessment of literature is absolutely false, because individuals can gain valuable perspective on life and insight into the world around them and become enlightened by reading and pursuing knowledge.

luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Capt. Beatty told Guy lots of lies.  Early in the story, Guy asks, at the firestation, a question that Clarisse had put to him about whether or not the job of fireman had always been about starting fires.  Beatty's implied response is that it is ridiculous to even ask such a question.  That's a lie.  After the woman burned herself with her books, Beatty shows his knowledge of books and lies about it saying that he only knows little bits and pieces.  It becomes clear, further into the story, that Beatty is actually very well read. so his explanation to Guy is a lie.  Some of the biggest lies come when Beatty is talking to Guy before the fire run to Guy's house.  Beatty says that books are traitors because they give opposing viewpoints and he takes quotes out of context to attempt to prove his point.  The reader has to wonder if Beatty isn't actually trying to show Guy just the opposite point - that books open up one's mind to a variety of views.