What was Montag and Faber's plan in Fahrenheit 451? Do they plan to kill Beatty, or do they plan to hide books in firemen’s homes?

In Fahrenheit 451, Faber initially suggested that they plant books inside the homes of firemen and call in alarms on them. However, Faber deems this idea too risky and feels like they would be committing suicide if they followed through with the plan. Instead, Montag agrees to give Faber money to travel to St. Louis, where he will begin printing books in secret. They never planned on it, but Montag ends up burning Captain Beatty to death with a flamethrower.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Faber suggests that they plant books in fireman's homes, then call and report them to the authorities, but when Montag shows a strong interest in the idea, Faber says he is only joking. Fireman, he says, aren't that important anyway: they make a show of burning a few books in...

Get
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Faber suggests that they plant books in fireman's homes, then call and report them to the authorities, but when Montag shows a strong interest in the idea, Faber says he is only joking. Fireman, he says, aren't that important anyway: they make a show of burning a few books in a society where most people have voluntarily given up reading. Instead, Faber asks Montag for money to start reprinting books. This way, when society falls apart and wars interrupt television viewing, books will be available to give to people.

Montag has no intention of killing Beatty when he leaves Faber's. Montag then arrives with Beatty at his own house to burn his books, and Mildred has turned Montag in. Beatty goads and goads him, apparently having a death wish, until Montag turns on him and incinerates him with a hose filled with flame.

This is a difficult scene. Beatty is the voice of orthodoxy in the novel, is also sometimes verbally sadistic towards Montag, and is a father figure to him. Symbolically, Montag has to kill this "father" to truly become free of his influence. Beatty is the "phoenix" that Montag must throw on the flames to be reborn from the ashes. At the same, it is morally difficult to justify killing a person who is merely taunting you verbally. Montag, we have to understand, is no cold-blooded killer, but reacts in the heat of the moment, and from that moment, his ties with his society are symbolically severed.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Faber and Montag plan to secretly print some books and hide them in the houses of firemen, then report them. Their objective is to undermine the authority of the firemen and put an end to the book burning.

They are unable to implement this plan, however. Montag is consumed with anger and guilt over his role as fireman; he is confused about exactly what to do and only knows that he must do something. When he returns home, he vents his frustration by reading from a book of poetry to his wife and her friends, Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles. Mildred tries to cover it up by saying that firemen are allowed to bring one book home and read it to demonstrate "how silly it all was." Montag returns to work, but Mildred reports him all the same, and when he and Beatty go out on a call and he finds himself at his own house, he knows that he has been found out. In a final confrontation, he kills Beatty with his flame thrower and escapes.

Montag clearly did not plan to murder Beatty, but their confrontation is part of a larger struggle that Montag is undergoing to understand his changing identity, from fireman to terrorist to, ultimately, fugitive.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Montag and Faber do not plan on killing Captain Beatty, but Faber does suggest that they print extra books and arrange to have them hidden in firemen's houses all over the country. Once they hide the printed books inside the firemen's homes, they would call in alarms on them. This would sow seeds of suspicion among the firemen, and the entire institution would crumble. Montag is thrilled by Faber's insidious plan and agrees to help him carry out the destructive idea.

Unfortunately, Faber refuses to follow through with his plan and admits that he was only joking. Despite Montag's enthusiasm and willingness to undermine the fireman organization, Faber understands that there are no guarantees and that they cannot trust anyone to help them carry out the plan. Faber explains to Montag that the whole culture is shot, and destroying the fireman organization would only "just nibble the edges."

Faber also feels that carrying out the plan would be suicide and gives up on the idea of challenging the corrupt institution. Instead of planting books in the homes of firemen, Montag decides to give Faber money to travel to St. Louis, where he will begin printing books in secret. This plan is much less risky, and Faber departs for St. Louis shortly after Montag becomes a fugitive.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Montag visits Faber, he begins discussing how they could possibly defeat the authoritarian regime and suggests that they get a printing press to make copies of books. Faber rejects Montag's initial plan then says that he might be interested in helping Montag if the fireman structure could burn itself. Faber then tells Montag that it would make more sense to print the copies and hide them inside firemen's houses throughout the country which would create suspicion among them. Faber then tells Montag that he was merely joking because it would be nearly impossible to go through with a plan of that magnitude without being caught. Faber fears for his life and is hesitant even to help Montag. However, while Montag is fleeing from the authorities he does plant a book in a fireman's home then calls in an alarm. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The plan that Faber and Montag have is to plant books in the homes of firemen so that the firemen will get arrested and there will be no one to enforce the anti-book laws.  Montag says he wants to have "...the salamander devour its own tail,", or bring the society down from the inside.  Montag has a few books of his own, but they know those aren't enough and Faber doesn't keep books around either.  They decide that Montag should go home and get some money, give that money to Faber, and Faber will then give the money to a man he knows who owns a printing press.  They will have books printed that they can then plant in the homes of firemen.  The plan is not enacted because Montag is arrested when the fire run is to his house.  That's when Montag, in a fit of anger and passion, turns the flame thrower on Beatty.  He never planned to kill Beatty, it was a sudden decision.  Faber tells Montag how to get in touch with the book people only when Montag is on the run as a fugitive after he killed Beatty.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

They planned to hide books in other fireman's homes to hurt the credibility of the entire fire department. The plan doesn't work very well and books are only planted in one fireman's home before Montag is forced to escape.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on