Throughout the course of the novel, Guy Montag’s life is filled with conflicts. We see him grow from a fireman who both accepts and enjoys his occupation, to an uneasy questioner of his occupation and his society, to a rebel who leaves his formal life and becomes part of a resistance. The central conflict Montag faces is with himself, and this is played out at numerous points.
The key episode when that central conflict emerges most clearly is when Montag first deeply questions the wisdom of burning books. His interactions with Beatty, his boss and a father figure, grow increasingly tense until he overreaches on Beatty’s order to burn the books and ends up killing him as well as burning his own house. Although this seems to be the point of no return, the conflict with Beatty is introduced much earlier. For that reason, the central conflict emerges at the point when Montag asks Beatty about Clarisse’s claim that firemen didn’t always burn things, as he seems no longer to worry about exposing his changing beliefs.