What smell causes Montag to vomit?

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Montag's throwing up at the memory of the old lady's self-immolation indicates that he's becoming increasingly uneasy about his role as a fireman. For the first time in his life, he's seriously starting to question the state's legitimacy and the part he plays in maintaining it.

The smell of kerosene...

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Montag's throwing up at the memory of the old lady's self-immolation indicates that he's becoming increasingly uneasy about his role as a fireman. For the first time in his life, he's seriously starting to question the state's legitimacy and the part he plays in maintaining it.

The smell of kerosene is no longer just the smell of destruction; it's the stench of death. From now on, every time Montag catches a whiff of that pungent odor, he will forever be reminded not just of the old lady's gruesome death but the part he played in making it happen. Even if Montag hasn't yet made up his mind about the regime, his body certainly has. His physical revulsion at the destructive work he carries out on a daily basis tells him what's right and wrong. The only question now is whether or not Montag will listen to what his body is telling him.

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Prior to vomiting, Montag and the other firemen had just invaded the home of an old woman who was hoarding books. Montag, against his better judgment, steals one in the process, so he's already feeling adrenalized and sickened by his actions. When they proceed to douse the woman's home in kerosene and prepare to burn it down, she produces the matches to do the act herself, encourages the firemen to leave, and then sets herself and the home on fire. This sickens Montag, as well as most of the other firemen, who aren't accustomed to this sort of wanton "disregard" for one's own life, particularly in favor of books.

Later, as Montag is going through his usual routine of trying to talk to Mildred while she occupies herself with her parlor screens, Montag vomits when he catches a whiff of the kerosene that's still on his hands. While it's objectively the kerosene that makes him vomit, it's really the memories and guilt that the smell triggers.

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