In "Farhenheit 451," why hasn't Captain Beatty been punished if he's obviously a well read man?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We aren't told specifically how or why it is that Beatty is so well-read, but it is probably so that he can be better prepared to combat those who read.  By knowing what is in books, specifically those things that are contradictory or that cause people to realize that there are things in the world in need of change, Beatty is better equipped to argue against books.  Toward the end of the first section, "The Hearth and the Salamander", he says that books made people uneasy, and because of his extensive reading he can cite titles and examples.  He has to know what is considered harmful about the books so that he can keep himself from being drawn into the books also.  Probably, it comes down to: forewarned is being forearmed; i.e., Beatty can argue against reading better if he has read.  Bradbury implies though that all this reading had the opposite effect on Beatty in the long run.  In the second section, after Montag burns Beatty, Montag realizes that Beatty wanted to die.  Perhaps the books had made Beatty aware that the world in which he lived was not the world in which he wanted to live because of the book banning.