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Part 3 (V)

Later, Montag comes to a clearing where he can see several old men -- bearded, but clean and tidy, wearing blue jeans and denim shirts -- sitting around a fire. He watches them talking for a little while, until one looks up and invites him to join them at the fire. These men know his name, and know who he is. They give him a bottle with a strange chemical to drink, and explain it will change the chemical index of his sweat; in half an hour the Hound won't be able to recognize him.

When Montag asks how they know about him, they show him the portable, battery-powered TV on which they have been watching the chase. The chase is still going on, inside the city. Montag doesn't understand how this is possible, but the old men explain it to him: The police hate to look foolish to the TV audience. So when they lost Montag in the river, they selected another victim, at random, from within the city -- some poor eccentric who's out for a walk early in the morning. As the group of men watches, a man whom the announcer claims is "Montag" is "discovered" and killed by the Mechanical Hound. His face is slightly blurred in the TV screen, so no one would be able to tell it wasn't really Montag. The announcer declares that the hunt is over, and the channel changes to another program.

The old men introduce themselves to Montag. The "leader" is named Granger. He is a former sociologist. Most of them used to be professors, literary scholars, or priests. Montag says he doesn't belong with them, because he's just an idiot, but Granger assures him they've all made the same kind of mistakes -- good mistakes, to Granger.

Granger explains that these old men form part of a very loose, semi-secret, very informal nation-wide network. These people are "libraries" -- they are, themselves, books! Each of them has memorized a book or two, and now they just keep them inside their heads, living quietly and peacefully out in the country and waiting for the culture to change so that the books can be written down again. The police don't hassle them, because they don't have any real books with them; some of their members live in small towns, which will remain safe even if a war comes. They plan to pass on the knowledge to their children, if they themselves aren't able to make change within their lifetime. They stay quiet and harmless, not trying to foment revolution, and they're always reminding themselves that they are no more special than anybody else. They

re just old men with books in their heads.

Montag is astonished, but the men laugh and remind him, "Don't judge a book by its cover." They are all the same -- they consider themselves simply "dust jackets": They are the books, now! Granger says he himself is Plato's Republic, while a man named Mr. Simmons is Marcus Aurelius, another is Jonathan Swift, another is Buddha and another Abraham Lincoln -- and they are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well. Montag tells them he himself has learned part of the Book of Ecclesiastes -- the book with the "lilies" he was trying to read on the subway -- but he can't remember it any more. But Granger reassures him that a book, once read, never really disappears, and they have methods for refreshing people's memories.

Right now, Granger says, this network of old men has a very unpleasant job: they are waiting for the coming war to start, and to end as quickly as possible. They hope that, in the tumult and renovation that will have to come afterward, there will be room for their memories of books to be heard and written again. But nobody can really do anything yet. All the old men can do tonight is wait -- and move a little farther down the river.

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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