Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Chapter 1, Part 2 (pages 21-30) Summary

The Hearth and the Salamander

This section opens at the firehouse and introduces the Mechanical Hound with its "sensitive capillary hairs in the nylonbrushed nostrils…that quivered gently" and its eight legs that "spidered under it on rubber-padded paws" (22). The Mechanical Hound tracks its prey by scent and kills by injecting it with "massive jolts of morphine or procaine" (22) via a needle in the Hound's proboscis. The prey, like books, corpses, and anything else unwanted in society is then incinerated. The Hound periodically growls at Montag, even menacing him with its poisonous needle. Captain Beatty is introduced when Montag mentions the trouble with the hound. Montag wonders, aloud, if someone is setting it to react to him, and quietly worries if someone "knew about the ventilator then mightn't they 'tell' the Hound" (24). The reader has not yet learned it is books Montag is hiding there. Beatty asks Montag if he has a guilty conscious.

Outside of the station, Montag becomes more comfortable with Clarisse as his relationship with her continues to deepen—which in turn causes him to further question his life. Their conversations provide insight to the aspects of the culture in the world of the novel: distraction, violence, and lack of depth to thought or conversation.

Tensions grow at the firehouse as the other firemen tease Montag about the Hound. Clarisse disappears at the end of the week. Montag doesn't know it yet, but she was hit by a car—killed by the same type of violence she'd recently been describing to Montag. Back at the station, a voice counts down the minutes, and the radio announces an impending war. Fighter jets continue to tear through the sky.

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