Fahrenheit 451 Chapter 1, Part 2 (pages 21-30) Analysis
The Hearth and the Salamander
The Mechanical Hound growling at Montag foreshadows the pursuit of him by the Hounds later in the novel. His trouble with the Hound coupled with Bradbury's depiction of it heightens the drama—the reader knows Montag is guilty of something, and could infer he possesses books (a fact that is later revealed). Besides the Hound, Captain Beatty is on to Montag as well (perhaps he is setting the Hound to growl at Montag?) Beatty is an experienced fireman, and is the first to sense the change in Montag. Montag becomes more comfortable around Clarisse because he is slowly starting to accept the way she thinks, which is feared by those in power in the world of the novel. People like Clarisse are watched by the authorities and dealt with eventually. Beatty is an expert at finding and punishing these types of people, and Montag is right to fear him.
Clarisse says to Montag, "My uncle says his grandfather remembered when children didn't kill each other" (27). This statement and the discussion of the violent pastimes of the children and teenagers foreshadow Clarisse's death (she is hit by a speeding car.) Bradbury establishes the danger of this world early on, making the narrative believable (by not disrupting what John Gardner calls "the fictive dream") when Montag is later almost killed by a speeding car full of teenagers while he is fleeing from the Hound.
At the start of the novel, Montag fits right in with the other firemen; he is one of the same. They start to tease him about the Hound, highlighting the fact Montag is changing—becoming less and less like his fellow firemen. Beatty recognizes this for what it is: Montag's guilt about his new beliefs.
Because the countdown of minutes by an automated voice in the firehouse is followed immediately by a radio announcement about the impending war, the countdown could easily be interpreted as a countdown to destruction, especially because the novel ends with the literal destruction of the United States by an enemy nation. This might also be interpreted as an allusion to the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic clock created to indicate how close mankind is to extinction, inspired by the development and use of atomic weapons.