What proof leads Montag to the realization that "Beatty wanted to die" in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Beatty's death comes across as more of a suicide than a homicide. He makes no effort to stop Montag from blasting him with the flame-thrower; he just stands there grinning, taunting Montag by quoting Shakespeare.

Whatever the reasons behind Beatty's unusual behavior, his demeanor is further proof, if proof were needed, of the unfathomable complexity of his character. A deeply troubled soul, Beatty was never fully able to reconcile his alter ego, the lover of books and learning, with the vicious, snarling bibilophobe who derives enormous satisfaction from incinerating books.

Unable to reconcile these two competing aspects of his personality, Beatty appears to have reached the grim conclusion that the only way his tortured soul can be purged is through fire. After all, Beatty had once told Montag that fire was, among other things, "clean" and "antibiotic." He meant this in relation to...

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