What warning does Beatty send to Montag in Fahrenheit 451?  

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Beatty has the Mechanical Hound visit Montag, suggesting with this device that he is having Montag watched.

In Part 3, "Burning Bright," after the firemen stop in front of a shocked Montag's own house, Beatty, with "dry satisfaction" verifies that he has sent the Hound to Montag's house,

"Well,...Now you did it. Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that's burnt his damn wings, he wonders why. Didn't I hint enough when I sent the Hound around your place?"

This mythological allusion to Icarus, son of Daedalus, the creator of a labyrinth that imprisoned enemies of King Minos. After Daedalus was later imprisoned himself, he managed to fashion gigantic wings with branches of osier and held together with wax. Before he and his son Icarus made their escape, he warned Icarus to not fly too close to the sun or the wax would melt and the wings come apart. So excited was Icarus about flying that he did not heed his father's warning and when the sun melted the wax, the boy fell to his death in the sea.

Thus, the Hound is equated to Daedalus since it has "warned" Montag. But, like Icarus, Montag has not heeded the warning, having become interested in what is in books for which a person would be willing to die. One of the ironies of this situation is that it is Montag's wife who has turned in Montag. Another irony is that Beatty continues to demonstrate how well read he is, but he does not join the literari of Faber; instead, he embraces the new society's philosophy of book burning's elimination of responsibility and consequences.

 

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