When the story opens, what are the forces acting upon Montag in Fahrenheit 451?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Montag is besieged by several forces at the outset of the novel.  A couple of them are external.  The most evident force is one where Montag's job is a force acting upon him.  As a fireman, Montag feels pride in acting in the name of the state and burning books, whose possession the state deems illegal.  In this, the force that is acting against Montag is the suposedly illegal activities of citizens who harbor books.  To a certain extent, Beatty is another force acting on Montag, ensuring that he is diligent in his work and believing in its authenticity.  As the novel opens, Montag finds himself subected to an internal force of wanting to do the best job he can.  Montag takes pride in his work and this becomes a force to ensure that what he does is done well.  Once Clarisse enters the narrative, she becomes another force that instantly acts upon Montag's purpose and what he does.   Clarisse's presence also is one where an internal force is activated in Montag, wondering if what he is doing is actually right or just.  Finally, Millie is a force that acts upon Montag in terms of being able to conform to the standards of society.  Her desire to assimilate into society as opposed to being separate from it is another force that acts upon Montag.

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