In Fahrenheit 451, what are examples of Montag's conflicts?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montag has both external and internal conflicts. His most important conflict is between himself and the government -- Man versus Society. He wants to develop his individuality through reading and learning, while society wants him to be informed and controlled through television. This struggle is initially internal, but becomes external when Beatty confronts him and calls him out on his crimes. Another conflict comes between Montag and his wife, Mildred, who is superficially happy but may have a deep, even suicidal misery hidden underneath:

"You took all the pills in your bottle last night."

"Oh, I wouldn't do that," she said, surprised.

"The bottle was empty."

"I wouldn't do a thing like that. Why would I do a thing like that?" she asked.

"Maybe you took two pills and forgot and took two more, and forgot again and took two more, and were so dopy you kept right on..."
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

When Montag reveals his books to Mildred, she worries about their social standing; when they read together, she doesn't appreciate the books and their ideas. Instead, because she doesn't have the intellectual basis to understand satire, or philosophy, she falls back on television to comfort her. Montag's developing mind clashes with her atrophied mind, and he finds himself unable to relate to her anymore. This conflict also changes from internal to external: earlier, when Montag questions her television shows, he is internally conflicted; later, when he reads to her guests, he is expressing his dissatisfaction externally.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Man vs. Man: Montag struggles against his nemesis, Captain Beatty, who is the fire chief throughout the novel. Captain Beatty represents the authoritarian government, which censors literature by burning novels and the homes of dissidents. Captain Beatty intellectually challenges Montag by attempting to convince him that literature is useless and should be destroyed. In Part Two, Captain Beatty attempts to arrest Montag after making him burn his home. Montag ends up killing Captain Beatty and becoming an enemy of the state.

Man vs. Society: Montag struggles to live a fulfilling life and pursue his intellectual endeavors in Bradbury's dystopian society. This society is driven by perverted technology, which creates shallow, ignorant citizens. Violence is encouraged, education is suppressed and literature is censored. Therefore, Montag must flee society in order to engage in his intellectual pursuits.

Man vs. Self: Montag struggles with his guilt, fear, and ignorance throughout the novel. After realizing that he is no longer happy, Montag struggles to decide if he should quit his job as a fireman, which will completely change his life's trajectory. Montag also struggles to comprehend the texts he attempts to read and feels guilty for burning novels his entire life.