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“What is there about fire that’s so lovely?… It’s perpetual motion; the thing man wanted to invent but never did… What is fire?…Its real beauty is that is destroys responsibility and consequences…clean quick, sure; nothing to rot later. Antibiotic, aesthetic, practical” (Bradbury 115).
This section of reading is without argument dominated by fire and its effects. For the society in F 451, fire is the magic elixir for cleansing life of its hardships and enigmas. Montag uses fire to cleanse his life of the restraints that are holding him back from freedom.
Before Chief Beatty sends Montag to burn his own house, he informs Montag that fire is the solution to everything. Beatty sends Montag into his home with a powerful weapon. This powerful weapon is simply an explanation. To the reader’s dismay, the explanation is later used against its dragoman. As Montag begins to enjoy burning his own house down, he begins to concur with Beatty that fire is the solution to anything and everything.
Bradbury makes it evident that Montag enjoys burning his house by using descriptive accounts like “it was good to burn” (116) and “Fire was best for everything” (116). As he fires each shot of liquid fire, Montag is incinerating his past into ash. Fire plays a contradictory role in this reading. Montag uses fire as his liberator against his past, while at the same time violates its vast power. Since Montag‘s past has held him down for so long, he is feeling pleasure getting rid of it. To do so, he uses fire’s sheer dynamism to justify his problems, a lesson he derives from Chief Beatty.
Montag’s cowering back to his old way of thinking shows the reader that he may not have changed as much as he believes he did. This is the case until he gets rid of the seconds thing that is holding him back from total edification. The barrage of quotes and explanations that Beatty radiates help prevent Montag from becoming completely contumacious and incorrigible against power. To eliminate the force that prevents him from being liberated, Montag uses fire to kill a pundit of fire. Ray Bradbury has filled F 451 with instances of irony, so unsurprisingly he uses a major one
in the climax of the novel. Beatty uses fire to defend his mentality and the mentality of society, but ironically the bulwarking of fire leads to Beatty’s demise.
In tonight’s reading, Montag successfully exterminates two of the three things that hold him back from outright emancipation. To eliminate Chief Beatty and his past, Montag uses fire. Up to this point, Montag uses fire as a tool for dissipation. In this section, however, Montag uses fire as a tool to free himself from the restraints of a vacant life. Bradbury depicts to the reader that Montag craves change by writing “burned the bedroom walls and cosmetics chest because he wanted to change everything” (116). The third and final obstacle that is holding Montag back from utter freedom is his own conscience. If he can learn to control his feelings and reasoning, Montag will be free once and for all.