Fahrenheit 451: Novel Summary: Part 3A
Now in front of Montag's house, Beatty drops all pretenses of being kind. He refers to Clarisse as "that little idiot," blaming Montag for accepting her philosophy of life. Soon, Mildred rushes out of the house, muttering to herself about her lost "family." As she scurries into a waiting car, Montag asks her if she was the one who put in the call to the authorities, but she doesn't respond. Montag of course feels a tremendous burden. His wife has left him, his terrible secret is revealed, and now he has to torch his own house.
Beatty continues his attack, saying to Montag, "[Fire's] real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences. A problem gets too burdensome, then into the furnace with it. Now, Montag, you're a burden. And fire will lift you off my shoulders, clean, quick, sure; nothing to rot later." He hopes to torture Montag even more by telling him to burn his house single-handedly, without help from the other firemen. Later, he ridicules him, saying, "It was pretty silly, quoting poetry around free and easy like that. It was the act of a silly damn snob." Next, Beatty tells Montag that indeed his wife did sound the alarm on him, as well as did the ladies who fled the house when Montag read the poetry. Finally, Beatty tells Montag that he's under arrest. To top it off, the fire chief smacks him, knocking Faber's seashell onto the pavement. Beatty picks up the ear piece radio and remarks, "We'll trace this and drop it on your friend."
These events prove to be too much for Montag. Fighting back the only way he knows how, he unlocks the safety on his flame thrower, aims at his captain, and fires. Beatty's blackened corpse slowly falls to the ground. Soon the Mechanical Hound sees Montag, attacks and is torched, but not before injecting him with his poison.
Sensing the danger of remaining at the crime scene, Montag decides to hurry away. Yet he gets the last laugh when he turns to Beatty's dead body and says, "You always said, don't face a problem, burn it. Well, now I've done both. Good-bye, Captain."