What are some major/important events that take place in Part 3, "Burning Bright," of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451?

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Quite a number of major developments occur in Part 3 of Ray Bradbury’s science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, not least of which is the total destruction of the city in which most of the story takes place.  But before atomic weaponry are brought to bear on this autocratic, dystopian society, some significant developments occur involving the novel’s protagonist, Guy Montag.  Part 2 ends with Montag’s fire company responding to yet another sounding of the station house alarm indicating that, somewhere in the city, books, and the home in which they are stored, are waiting to be set afire.  Part 3 begins with the fire truck’s arrival at its destination: Montag’s home.  This unwelcome surprise, it will be revealed, comes courtesy of Montag’s wife, Mildred, reporting him to the authorities following his unfortunate decision to read poetry to her and her friends and her growing irritation with Guy’s new-found penchant for concealing books.  Captain Beatty, having suspected Montag of subversive tendencies, comments upon the fire truck’s arrival at Montag’s home: "’Well,"’ said Beatty, ‘now you did it. Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that he's burnt his damn wings, he wonders why’.”

As a means of exacerbating Montag’s punishment, Beatty orders his once-loyal and diligent subordinate to use his flame-thrower to destroy the hidden books.  Montag responds by not only burning books (excluding those he had hidden outside), but his entire house as well, before turning the flame-thrower on his superior, burning Beatty to death.  With this, Montag has conclusively broken with the system he once served, and must flee.  He arrives at Professor Faber’s home, the reclusive former scholar who has been surreptitiously communicating with the fireman through a small ear-piece.  Faber provides short-lived respite from the growing chaos outside, including the now-full-scale search for Montag underway, but advises his friend to flee the city and locate the scholars and others who had previously sought refuge in the wild and have dedicated themselves to preserving the substance of the now-burned books.  Before Montag leaves, Faber gives him some old clothes to throw off the mechanical hound being used to locate him.

Montag flees the city as enemy bombers commence their full-scale attack, raining atomic bombs on the metropolis.  He succeeds in finding the people Faber had told him about, led by a man named Granger, who introduces the fugitive to the other former professors, all of whom have taken it upon themselves to memorize the text of books so as to preserve the knowledge for future generations.  As Granger describes them:

“We're book-burners, too. We read the books and burnt them, afraid they'd be found. Micro-filming didn't pay off; we were always travelling, we didn't want to bury the film and come back later. Always the chance of discovery. Better to keep it in the old heads, where no one can see it or suspect it. We are all bits and pieces of history and literature and international law, Byron, Tom Paine, Machiavelli, or Christ, it's here. And the hour is late. And the war's begun. And we are out here, and the city is there, all wrapped up in its own coat of a thousand colours.”

So, Part 3 of Bradbury’s novel includes the destruction of Montag’s home, his killing of Beatty, his final encounter with Faber, and his success in finding refuge in the wilderness with the former scholars who memorize the content of books, including the Bible.

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shmindle | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) Honors

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Major events:

  • Montag burns Captain Beatty 

Montag points the flame thrower at Beatty, but the captain doesn't take his action seriously.  He taunts Montag, but Montag actually burns Beatty to ashes. Later, he realizes that maybe Beatty wanted to die. Upon this realization, he feels guilty.

  • Montag drifts in the river to escape Mechanical Hound

While he is drifting, he has time to reflect on the past.  He concludes that the world is not destructive, and that he can't burn anything again.  When he steps out of the river and onto a railroad, he feels as if Clarisse has walked there too.

  • Montag finds a band 

The leader of the band introduces himself as Granger.  All the members are former intellectuals. They keep the books by memorizing them.  On the tv, a fake Montag is declared as dead by authorities. Suddenly, the sky is filled with jet bombers and the city is basically destroyed.  Granger compares man to a phoenix that is destroyed by fire, but rises from the ashes in a never ending cycle.  Granger says that man is different because he can learn from mistakes.  The band walks toward the city, presumably to help survivors rebuild the city from the ashes.

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