Who is Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451 and what is his job?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main character and protagonist of Fahrenheit 451, Montag is one of the futuristic society's firemen. 

Clearly, in this futuristic society the denotation and connotations of the word fireman have changed from the word's original meaning. Rather than being a saving force, the fireman of Bradbury's narrative is a destructive force; he does not represent rescue but that which inhibits and destroys.

For Montag, the meaning of his occupation is drastically altered when the occupant of one house to which the firemen are called does not obey their order to vacate the premises. She insists upon remaining with her many beloved books and holds up a match. Seeing this match, the men back off and leave the house. They see her strike the match on the railing and the house catches fire. As the firemen make their way back to the station, Montag mentions that she said, "Play the man, Master Riley. Something, something, something."

Captain Beatty knows the passage and explains that it is from a man named Latimer, who said it to Nicholas Ridley as they were being burned alive at Oxford, for heresy on 16 October 16, 1555. 

After watching the woman die with her books, Montag begins to wonder what power the printed word holds. He returns to the secret stash of books that he has been collecting. When he finally realizes how the burning of books has affected society, Montag's life is irrevocably changed.

amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Guy Montag is the protagonist (main character) in Fahrenheit 451. At the start of the novel, Guy is a fireman. He doesn't put out fires. He starts them. His job is to burn books that are forbidden by the state. To expand on this a bit, you can consider Guy an enforcer of state ideology and an enforcer of censorship. Fahrenheit 451 is a larger work Bradbury developed from a short story he wrote in 1947. The book burning can be seen as a reference to the Nazi book burnings during the rise of the Third Reich. The theme of censorship and limitation of freedom, when it comes to books and knowledge, may be a reference to the era, 1950's, of censorship carried out by McCarthy in the United States. In general, Guy's job is to extinguish any literature that might provoke citizens to question their societal conditions. Guy's title is fireman, but his function is to suppress free thinking by burning books. He is an agent of the state (“Big Brother”); that is, until he has his awakening. 

leslev2012 | Student

the protagonist 

giraffepoop | Student

Guy Montag is the protagonist in Ray Bradbury's dystopia 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451. He is depicted living in a futuristic town where he works as a fireman whose job is to burn books.