Part 1 Summary
- The novel starts with a scene where Montag and the other firemen are fuelling a fire
“With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history” p1
In this quotation the firehoses that spurt kerosene are being compared to great snakes – generating a direct comparison between the destructive work of the firemen and the mythological evil of serpents
- Montag discovers his wife Mildred in bed having taken an overdose. He calls in the operators to pump her stomach and give her a blood transfusion using arcane specialised equipment. They are, apparently, having a busy night.
“Got to clean them out both ways” p19
Here, the ‘operator’ whose job it was to operate the machines that pump the stomaches of people who have attempted suicide by over-dose was shown to have an attitude more like an over-worked plumber.
He was described as smoking and eager to get on to his next job.
- Montag goes to work at the Firehouse and the mechanical dog is introduced
“it was like a great bee come home from some field where the honey is full of poison wildness, of insanity and nightmare, its body crammed with that over-rich nectar and now it was sleeping the evil out of its self”
Montag arrives at the fire station for the day he is greeted by a mechanical do that has been programmed to smell out books to assist the fire department in the quest to eradicate books that are banned
- Clarisse disappears along with the rest of her family. People say she killed herself
“he almost turned back to make the short walk again, to give her time to appear”
he had already become used to the daily interruption and without it was like
Clarisse and her family dissipates
- Montag attends a fire where a woman kills herself by self-immolation (setting herself alight)
- Montag steals a book and takes it home. He claims to be sick and doesn’t go to work
- Beatty visits Montag in his home and challenges him
- Montag convinces his wife Mildred to turn off her ‘Parlour’ and read the books he has been collecting instead
- Montag visits Faber, an old English professor who shows him a two-way communication device he has been developing.
- He gives it to Montag
- When Mildred has friends over to watch the Parlour, Montag switches it off and reads them a banned poem
- Montag then returns to the firehouse and is interrogated by Beatty
- Montag’s house is burnt because Mildred narked on him and then he burnt Beatty and the mechanical dog then goes on the run
“but remember that the captain belongs to the most dangerous enemy to truth and freedom, the solid unmoving cattle of the majority”