In Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451, why does Beatty keep quoting famous authors to Montag?
Captain Beatty, the senior fireman in Ray Bradbury’s science fiction classic Fahrenheit 451 and Montag’s superior, is an erudite individual given to literary references – an especially peculiar idiosyncrasy given the fact that, in Bradbury’s dystopian, autocratic society, possession of books is a serious crime. Throughout the first half of the novel, before Montag’s guilt over possession of books forces him to flee “civilization,” Captain Beatty is the fire department, and the novel’s corporate memory, with Professor Faber representing a dissenting perspective. In analyzing Beatty’s habit of quoting from or referencing historical texts, one can suggest that his deep knowledge of literature and of the history of this society in which they live emanates from the old adage provided by the ancient Chinese philosopher of war, Sun Tzu. Sun Tzu’s famous guide or manual on how to prevail in war includes this well-known bit of advice: “[I]f you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.” From this grew the oft-repeated refrain, “know your enemy.”
The key to Beatty’s effectiveness in running the fire department and keeping a lid on subversive activities, like reading, is his ability to understand the culture in which books were once highly valued. When he suggests to a woman whose house if being targeted by the firemen because of her newly-discovered cache of books, Beatty accuses her of having lived “locked up here for years with a regular damned Tower of Babel.” He later quotes the 16th Century English clergyman Hugh Latimer, burned at the stake for his religious beliefs, stating "We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put...
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