Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fahrenheit 451: Summary - The Hearth and the Salamander

In Ray Bradbury's Fahrneheit 451, there are three sections, "the Hearth and the Salamander," "the Sieve and the Sand," and "Burning Bright," respectively in order. In the first part, "the Hearth and the Salamander," we meet this guy named Guy Montag. He is a firemanwith the number 451. In the first section, Guy really starts to question himself. He is not sure whether he likes the way he is living or not. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Guy's job is to track down illegal substances, in this case, books. He is to finds all the books and burn them. Very early in the story, Guy is walking home one day after a hard day at work when he comes around a corner to meet Clarisse. They talk for a little while, and she asks Guy, just as they are about to part for the night, if he is truly happy. This question startles Montag, as he is unsure of the answer and how he could answer it. Over the course of the next few days, they walk home together and chat, and Montag is still trying to find the answer to her question. Then, suddenly and mysteriously, Clarisse is not there on his way home from work. Later, he comes to find that she has been arrested, or possibly killed with her family for heresy and disrupting the flow of day to day life. A few more days go by, then Montag gets the call that will change his life irreversably. The firemen are told to go to a residence of an old woman who has been hiding books for some time, apparently. Just after the men soak her house in kerosene, the old woman takes out her own match and burns down her own house with her still inside. Shocked from the events of the last day, Montag does not go to work and is going to call in sick when Captain Beatty comes to his house. Beatty's pep talk he gives Montag (more of a pep speech) reveals the questionable side of Beatty that has always wanted to appear, and once he leaves, Montag shows his wife, Mildred, his secret stash of books he has collected over the past couple months, including his newest addition, the Bible, which he lifted from the old woman's house the last night. Mildred is taken aback by these extremely illegal hides, and she firmly tells Guy that she does not want them in her house. As this section of the book draws to a close, there is a strange character outside the door of the Montags' home, later revealed to be the firehouse "dog." The dog is actually a robot used to sniff out people who have been breaking the rules and kill them. Montag was clerly on the list because of his secret hiding spot of books. Together, the two frantically read as many pages of the books as they can, learning new things about everything, and taking in all sorts of knowledge.

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