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Part 3 (II)

By 3:30 AM, the fire is over. The house and books are destroyed and the neighbors have gone back to their houses. Beatty, who is still out on the lawn with the other firemen, tells Montag that it was, indeed, Mildred who called in the alarm about her own house.

But Beatty adds that Mildred's two friends, Mrs., Phelps and Mrs. Bowles, has also phoned in an alarm. He tauntingly tells Montag how stupid it was of him to go around reading poetry at people -- the act of an egomaniac. Reminding Montag how powerless he and his books really are, he suddenly slaps him hard on the side of the head. Faber's electronic "green bullet" is knocked out, and falls to the ground; Beatty, picking it up, realizes what it is, and smilingly tells Montag that he will have it traced and then they will get Faber as well.

Montag reacts with anger, and, barely realizing what he is doing, threatens Beatty with the only weapon he has -- the flame-thrower, still in his hands. But, instead of acting frightened, Beatty begins to taunt Montag. He dares him to pull the trigger, and starts to move toward him. Montag, scarcely knowing what he is doing, does pull the trigger. In horror, he watches as Beatty is enveloped in flames, flailing about on the lawn like a hideous puppet for a few moments before he dies in flames. Montag can only stare in shock.

The other two firemen, Stoneman and Black, are also stunned into horrified silence. Montag, trying hard not to be sick, orders them both to turn around. Then he hits them hard on the back of the head, knocking off their helmets and knocking them unconscious.

Suddenly, the Mechanical Hound appears from out of the darkness. It leaps across the lawn to kill Montag with its poisoned needle, but just in time Montag shoots it with the flame-thrower too. Nonetheless, the Hound manages to sting him in the leg before the fire destroys it, and Montag, staggering into the street, is nearly run over by a car going at ninety miles an hour. Barely knowing where he's going, with his half-anesthetized leg stinging him at every step, Montag begins to hobble off through the dark alleys. Suddenly he's on the run.

Montag decides he'd better save what he can. Going back to his smoldering house, he finds a few books left in the garden -- books Mildred missed when she brought them indoors. Montag picks them up and starts to flee through the alleys again, hearing distant sirens approaching, as police and firemen converge on the scene.

Suddenly, Montag falls to his knees in the alley, overcome by anguish. It has suddenly occurred to him that Beatty wanted to die -- that was why he didn't even try to save himself, but instead taunted Montag, even knowing that Montag was desperate and had a flamethrower in his hands. Montag thinks about how strange this must be -- to want to die so much that you would taunt a half-crazy armed man. Somewhere deep inside of him, he knows it is true.

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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