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Part 3 (I)

Part Three: Burning Bright (I)

As the other firemen prepare Montag's house for burning, doors open all down the street and the neighbors come out to watch the show. Montag stands frozen, while Beatty starts to taunt him. He tells Montag he should have known what was coming -- after all, didn't he notice when Beatty sent the Mechanical Hound to sniff around his house? (This explains the presence Montag sensed at the beginning of Part 2, when he and Mildred heard a noise like a dog scratching at the door.)

Montag instinctively looks toward the empty house where Clarisse and her family once lived. But Beatty mocks him again. He says people like Clarisse are sentimental and self-righteous, but never do any good in the end. Faber's voice buzzes through the "green bullet" in Montag's ear, urging him to run, but Montag cries out that he can't, because of the Mechanical Hound. Beatty, not understanding Montag's cry, gloatingly confirms that the Hound is nearby in case Montag tries to run.

Suddenly, the door of Montag's house opens and Mildred runs out with a suitcase in her hand. Montag realizes that she must have been the one who called in the fire alarm. But she doesn't even stop to look at him, simply jumping into the cab which pulls up to meet her at the curb. Montag can hear her murmuring unhappily about her lost "family" -- that is, the TV characters in her wall.

Beatty stands on the lawn, flicking his fireman's igniter on and off. He launches into another speech, praising fire. He "reminds" Montag that fire is the simplest, cleanest solution to any problem: if you burn something, then you don't have to think about it any more.

Then Beatty orders Montag to burn down his house himself -- not with kerosene and a match, but alone, with his flamethrower, room by room. Montag goes into the house, where he discovers that Mildred has piled the books back inside before calling in the alarm, He obeys Beatty, moving from room to room and setting everything on fire. As he destroys the sterile bedroom, the awful TV room, all the reminders of the unhappy and stifled life he and Mildred lived together here, he feels a kind of satisfaction, and wonders if Beatty is right: maybe fire is the solution after all. Approaching from behind, Beatty quietly reminds him that when he's done, Montag is under arrest.

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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