Why might Montag's expression of affection to the hound be a turning point in his development in Fahrenheit 451? (Page 20)
Following his interactions with Clarisse, Montag becomes increasingly introspective and begins to analyze his life. Clarisse has impacted the way Montag perceives the world, and he is becoming a more sensitive, sympathetic individual. One night, Montag enters the firehouse, and the Mechanical Hound growls at him. When Montag slides up the pole into the upper room where the firefighters are playing poker, Montag tells Captain Beatty that the Mechanical Hound does not like him. Captain Beatty then explains to Montag that the Mechanical Hound does not have feelings and simply responds to the various chemical calibrations in its system. When Beatty tells Montag that the Hound doesn't think anything they don't want it to, Montag expresses empathy for the Mechanical Hound by saying,
That's sad...because all we put into it is hunting and finding and killing. What a shame if that's all it can ever know (Bradbury 1953, 13).
Montag's brief comment reveals his increase in perspective and sympathy. He does not blame the Mechanical Hound for its malevolent nature and feels sorry that humans have created it to kill and harm other beings. Montag views the Mechanical Hound as a fascinating "great bee" full of poison, and even says "Hello" to the beast while it is sleeping. Montag's feelings towards the Mechanical Hound indicate a significant turning point in his development. He has become a sensitive, introspective man, who will decide to make a dramatic change in his life by quitting his job and challenging the government.
At this moment in the book, readers have just experienced a scene change from Montag having a talk with Clarisse which made him more aware of and happy about the world around him. Then the scene shifts to Montag at work, which could have been just a few moments later. Before Montag greets the dog, Bradbury narrates:
He went out to look at the city and the clouds had cleared away completely, and he lit a cigarette and came back to bend down and look at the Hound. It was like a great bee come home from some field where the honey is full of poison wildness, of insanity and nightmare, its body crammed with that over-rich nectar and now it was sleeping the evil out of itself.
This is a parodoxical statement because it alludes to the power of the venom within the Mechanical Hound, but then make the assumption that the evil can acutally be extracted from the Hound with sleep.
The turning point of this entire situation for Montag and his development come with the idea that he actually demonstrated human emotion and thought. He considered the dog's abilities, and he actually thought kindly of the dog for a moment. This is Clarisse's influence.
Ironically, the dog is able to read human thought and recognize change. The dog snapping at Montag is the evidence that Montag is open to being enlightened about what is wrong with his dystopian society.
Hope that helps.