Who tries to run Montag over in Fahrenheit 451? What does this reveal about this society?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montag is almost run over by a group of teenagers, demonstrating the disregard for human life in his society.

When Montag is running away from the Mechanical Hound after fleeing for his life following the murder of Beatty, he thinks he is being chased by the police.  When the car passes him, he realizes that it was not the police after all.

A carful of children, … out whistling, yelling, hurrahing, had seen a man, a very extraordinary sight, a man strolling, a rarity, and simply said, "Let's get him," not knowing he was the fugitive … (Part III)

The fact that they do not know who he is and do not know that he is on the run from the law demonstrates the lack of appreciation for human life in their society.  Clarisse mentions this to Montag earlier in the novel, when she describes how kids routinely kill each other because they are bored.

The police do not care how fast a person drives as long as they have “ten thousand Insurance” (Part I).  Kids joyride around town and intentionally try to hit pedestrians for the fun of it.  Montag is horrified.  Of course, it would not have been much better if they were trying to catch him because he was on the run.

The lack of books has clearly degraded society.  People no longer care for one another.  There is no emotion at all.  Most of them just stare at the television and ignore each other.  Children don’t have responsibility, and neither do adults.  Society is out of control.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In part 3, Montag ends up killing Captain Beatty and the mechanical hound using a flamethrower. However, the mechanical hound is able to stab Montag with its long, poisonous needle, which anesthetizes his leg and leaves it numb. Montag then stumbles into a nearby gas station to wash his face before attempting to cross the empty boulevard. Montag begins to slowly cross the dangerous boulevard, where citizens travel at speeds up to 130 mph. As Montag is staggering across the street, he stumbles and falls as a car full of teenagers speeds down the street towards him. Fortunately, the car full of kids narrowly misses Montag. He then considers that the reason they purposely missed him was because they would probably have flipped their car if they hit him. After rising to his feet, Montag sees the car turn around and head back in his direction. Bradbury describes Montag's thoughts by writing,

"They would have killed me," thought Montag, swaying, the air still torn and stirring about him in dust, touching his bruised cheek. "For no reason at all in the world they would have killed me" (Bradbury 60).

The reckless, malevolent nature of the children reveal the lack of compassion and restraint in Bradbury's dystopian society. The teenagers attempting to run Montag over also demonstrate the lack of morality and civility throughout the society.