It’s clear that both Beatty’s knowledge and his bitterness come from a close association with books. Beatty makes this clear in his conversation with Montag after Montag arrives back at the firehouse with a book to burn (part II). Montag’s guilt is evident, but Beatty reassures him that “we’re all sheep who have strayed at times,” and that now his “fever is over.”
Actually, Beatty’s fever seems to have never left. He describes learning as drinking, and readers as alcoholics, using a metaphor from Alexander Pope, an eighteenth-century English poet.
“I’ll tell you,” said Beatty, smiling at his cards. “That made you for a little while a drunkard. Read a few lines and off you go over the cliff. Bang, you’re ready to blow up the world, chop off heads, knock down women and children, destroy authority. I know, I’ve been through it all.”
While the Captain accepts the book from Montag, he goes on to describe a dream he had, in which he and Montag were engaged in a...
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