Climax of Fahrenheit 451: Summary & Analysis

Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson, we will explore the climax of Fahrenheit 451, when Montag kills Beatty. We will analyze what the purpose of this climax is and how we as readers can relate to the climax of the story.

Fahrenheit 451

How often do you see an article about how we are becoming too reliant on technology? Or that teenagers and young adults are too absorbed in their phones to even notice the world around them? Yet if we were to try and take away these modern tools we would be lost and we would not appreciate anyone who tried to stop us from using this modern technology.

Ray Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451 is about a community where everyone is completely reliant on what is fed to them through technology and despises books. Everyone thinks the same way and acts in the same way. Those who do not conform have all died in this novel, such as Clarisse. So the climax of this novel is when the protagonist, Montag, decides to fully step out of society's rules and he kills his boss, Beatty. In many ways, the world depicted in Fahrenheit 451 can thus be seen as a dystopian society, a fictional, futuristic community that mirrors many of the social flaws of the society in which it was written.

Summary of Climax

We have seen Montag slowly overthrowing the status quo. He first starts wondering and asking questions, then he starts collecting books; he even tries to read these books to others. Beatty had taken Montag aside and told him it was normal for the firemen to become curious about books at one point or another and explained that Montag just needed to set it aside because it was dangerous. Yet Montag didn't, instead he sought out someone else who would join him.

When Montag gets to work on the day that he ends up killing Beatty, it starts out with Beatty continually explaining to him why books are bad. He barrages Montag with quotations from books that contradict each other in order to prove that books don't make sense and are dangerous and just need to be burned.

At this point the alarm (indicating the need to burn a house due to books being discovered) sounds. Montag goes with the team to discover that it is his own home that is to be burned. Montag seems to follow the status quo and even burns his own house. Beatty then makes it clear that Montag will be arrested as well as any others who have helped him. Montag then hits his breaking point and refuses to go along with society's rules and burns Beatty to ashes.

From this point on, the novel just covers the aftermath for Montag--his escape and eventual life after breaking away from society.

Analysis of Climax

Fahrenheit 451 has been critiqued for this very idea that someone should turn so fully away from society's rules. In today's society if someone, who was supposed to uphold the rules, were to turn away from the rules so completely we would be extremely upset and we would hunt them down and destroy them, or at least their public image.

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