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Part 1 (III)

Montag arrives at the fire station, as usual, at one o'clock AM. He first stops by the doghouse of the Mechanical Hound -- this future's answer to the traditional firehouse Dalmatian. But the Hound is really a huge, terrifying robot in the shape of a dog. It has eight legs and rubber-padded paws, with which it tracks down its victims and kills them with a poisoned needle in its muzzle. (Presumably -- although this remains unstated -- the Hound is sent after rebels who have been discovered to keep books in their houses.)

As he crouches to look at the "dozing" monster, Montag thinks of the games the firemen often play with it, in which they turn loose a bunch of live chickens or cats and place bets on which the Hound will kill first. But, lately, Montag hasn't been up to playing these games with the other firemen.

Montag gently touches the Hound. It suddenly growls, rouses up, and starts toward him with its needle extended. Frozen in fear, Montag waits for it to go back to "sleep."

Half in shock, Montag heads up to the top floor of the station. Here her finds the other firemen, Stoneman and Black, and the fire captain, Beatty. They are playing cards.

Montag tells them what just happened. He also mentions that the Hound has reacted to him three times in the past two months. But Beatty, the Fire Captain, laughs and reminds him that that's impossible: The Hound is only a robot, and must be programmed by humans to seek out a certain combination of amino acids. Only then can it track down and kills its victim.

Beatty promises he'll have a technician look at the Hound tomorrow. But he notices Montag's nervousness, and asks, as if joking, if Montag has a guilty conscience. Montag -- who has, for some reason, been thinking very hard about what he has hidden in his ventilator grille at home -- gives the Captain a strange look but doesn't answer. Beatty, staring at him with a knowing expression, softly begins to laugh.

During the next week, Montag sees a lot of Clarisse, running into her every time he comes out of his house. She talks to him about very unusual things -- why he and his wife have no children, the way old leaves smell like cinnamon, and how alienated Clarisse feels from the anarchic games of teenagers her own age. She mentions that her friends are always dying in car crashes. Clarisse tells him that she loves to watch people, and that she has learned they don't really talk about anything with each other any more.

Montag, who feels a connection with her that he's never felt before, finds himself looking at the world differently. Meanwhile, at the fire station, he avoids the Mechanical Hound, and Beatty continues to tease him about his nervousness.

One afternoon, Clarisse isn't there when Montag leaves the house. Montag feels lost without knowing why. In the firehouse that evening, he feels alienated from the other firemen, although he's worked with them for the past ten years. He begins to ask them questions like the ones Clarisse has asked him -- for instance, didn't firemen once put out fires instead of starting them? The other firemen laugh at him and start to pull out their history books, but they are interrupted by the sound of a bell: they have a fire to take care of!

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Part 1 (I)
Part 1 (II)
Part 1 (III)
Part 1 (IV)
Part 1 (V)
Part 2 (I)
Part 2 (II)
Part 2 (III)
Part 3 (I)
Part 3 (II)
Part 3 (III)
Part 3 (IV)
Part 3 (V)
Part 3 (VI)


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