Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury
Contributed by Ariane Heyne
Section 9

From after leaving Faber’s through the death of the fake Montag

Montag glances through the windows of other people’s houses to see their TV parlors, allowing him to watch the Hound track him on the broadcast. Montag witnesses the Hound hesitate when it reaches Faber’s house, before it quickly moves along. Montag continues in his run in the direction of the river, and he hears a Seashell radio announcement saying that everyone needs to look out of their windows and doors after a countdown from 10. He gets to the river at the point where everyone in the neighborhood begins opening their doors and windows. To prevent the Hound from noticing his scent, he goes into the river. The current then causes him to drift away. He is able to avoid the police helicopter searchlights, and he sees them fly away. The current brings him to the countryside, where he washes ashore. He emerges from the river and is overwhelmed by nature’s sights, smells, and sounds. He is able to find the railroad tracks and he follows them. As he makes his way along them, he has a strong sense that Clarissa once walked in the same place.

He eventually reaches a spot where there is a fire surrounded by five men. The men’s leader perceives him in the shadows, and he asks him to join them. He declares that his name is Granger. Granger shows Montag a portable TV set and lets him know that they have been watching the televised chase. They were expecting that he would show up there. While the men at the fire are homeless, they are neat and clean. They also possess a considerable amount of technology. Granger hands Montag a bottle of colorless fluid. He says that he should drink it as it will alter his perspiration’s chemical index so that the Hound will be unable to find him. Granger informs him that the search has gone in the opposite direction and that the authorities will be trying to find a scapegoat to avoid humiliation. The men go to the TV to watch as the camera focuses on a man smoking a cigarette, walking down a street. The announcer says that this man is Montag, and the Hound pounces on him. The announcer says that Montag is dead and that the crime he has committed has been punished. The men think aloud that the police probably selected the scapegoat because he was walking by himself, which is considered to be an antisocial and subversive habit.


The sun burnt every day. It burnt Time . . . Time was busy burning the years and the people anyway, without any help from him. So if he burnt things with the firemen and the sun burnt Time, that meant that everything burnt!

Several devices are used by the author to increase tension during the chase sequence. This includes dramatic pauses (including when the Hound hesitates at Faber’s house), the way the Hound is described from Montag’s perspective, and the countdown to the moment when everyone opens their doors and windows (which shows that the entire city is against Montag). Montag is compelled to make an effort in trying to remember that he isn’t viewing a fictional drama but rather the real drama of his own life, which is being shown over twenty-million televisions.

Montag departs the city and its frightening realities, which he sees as a sort of séance of ghosts or stage with actors, and goes into the countryside. The newness of this creates a strange sense of unreality. As the river carries him down the river in the darkness, he is finally able to experience the freedom and quiet necessary to think.

Montag thinks about the moon, which brings to mind the sun. The sun then reminds him of fire. He comes to the conclusion that the sun is actually able to burn time. He thinks it burns away years and everyone who lives on this planet. This is an enigmatic statement, but it means only that time, which is shown by the sun’s rising and setting, is inevitable in its destruction of people and all the things they have worked for. He understands that if he continues burning things for the entirety of his life, all that is worthwhile will also be destroyed with even more speed. He starts to imagine his life as having a special purpose. He needs to use his life to help preserve life rather than destroy it. Shortly after he thinks these things, he witnesses the flame that the homeless people warm their hands near. It is the first time in his life that he has seen that fire is able to sustain as well as destroy life.

Montag contemplates the silence he experiences in the countryside, and he begins to think about Mildred. He recognizes that she would be unable to deal with the silence and this thought makes him sad. By contrast, Montag feels an increasing sense of comfort in nature’s presence. He becomes “fully aware of his entire body.” He has ceased thinking that his blood, hands, and mind are separate entities, as he did before. Montag has now become a whole person.

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