Fahrenheit 451

Captain Beatty Character Analysis

Montag's boss at the fire station. Beatty is a complex character. He has committed to memory many passages of classic literature, and can quote them at will, yet as a fire captain he is devoted to the destruction of intellectual pursuits, artistic efforts, and individual thought. Bradbury uses Beatty to explain how mid-20th-century America becomes the joy-seeking, irresponsible, unemotional, and intellectually repressive future world depicted in Fahrenheit 451. Beatty claims he, like Montag, once became interested in books, but he now endorses instant gratification. Yet Beatty uses his extensive learning to push Montag past the breaking point and goad Montag into killing him. After Montag kills Beatty, Montag becomes convinced that Beatty actually wanted to die (though it's never clear if this is true). Beatty is an intellectual wearing the uniform of the intellectual's worst enemy. Perhaps the contradiction is too much for him in the end.

Captain Beatty Quotes in Fahrenheit 451

The Fahrenheit 451 quotes below are all either spoken by Captain Beatty or refer to Captain Beatty. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Mass Media Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Fahrenheit 451 published in 2013.
Part 1 Quotes
"Speed up the film, Montag, quick... Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom! Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline!... Whirl man's mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!"
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don't step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that!... Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did."
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

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"We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon."
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean."
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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"The important thing for you to remember, Montag, is we're the Happiness Boys... you and I and the others. We stand against the small tide of those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought. We have our fingers in the dike. Hold steady. Don't let the torrent of melancholy and drear philosophy drown our world."
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker), Guy Montag
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

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"At least once in his career, every fireman gets an itch. What do the books say, he wonders. Oh, to scratch that itch, eh?"
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker)
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 3 Quotes
"What is it about fire that's so lovely? No matter what age we are, what draws us to it?... It's perpetual motion; the thing man wanted to invent but never did. Or almost perpetual motion. If you let it go on, it'd burn our lifetimes out."
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Now, Montag, you're a burden. And fire will lift you off my shoulders, clean, quick, sure; nothing to rot later. Antibiotic, aesthetic, practical."
Related Characters: Captain Beatty (speaker), Guy Montag
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

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Captain Beatty Character Timeline in Fahrenheit 451

The timeline below shows where the character Captain Beatty appears in Fahrenheit 451. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
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Upstairs, four firemen are playing cards. Montag complains to Captain Beatty (whose helmet has a phoenix on it) about the Hound's threatening gestures toward him.... (full context)
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...the background reports that war may be declared at any moment. Montag, meanwhile, feels that Beatty can sense his guilt. He says he's been thinking about the man whose library they... (full context)
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...her out, but she won't leave her porch. Kerosene fumes are rising from the books. Captain Beatty holds his igniter and counts to ten, but before he reaches ten, the woman... (full context)
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Driving back to the firehouse, Montag asks what the woman was reciting when they entered. Beatty knows it by heart. It's a phrase that one man said to another before they... (full context)
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...Mildred refuses to have a real discussion about it. The painful exchange is interrupted when Captain Beatty unexpectedly arrives. (full context)
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Once inside, Beatty tells Montag that he anticipated Montag would call in sick. He says that all firemen,... (full context)
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Another factor in the dumbing down of culture, according to Beatty, were the demands made by every imaginable minority group (geographical, ethnic, occupational, religious, and so... (full context)
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As Beatty talks, Mildred starts straightening up the house. She soon discovers the book that Montag hid... (full context)
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Beatty says the word "intellectual" became a swear word. No one wanted to feel less intelligent... (full context)
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Before leaving, Beatty mentions that every fireman eventually feels the urge to read a book. Montag asks what... (full context)
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...that they should give themselves 48 hours to look at the books, and if what Captain Beatty says is true—that books are meaningless—then they'll burn the books together. Montag wants to... (full context)
Part 2
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...rather be in the parlor with her TV "family" and is also nervous about what Captain Beatty would do if he found the books. Montag is more worried about Mildred's depression,... (full context)
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...Bible, maybe the last Bible in existence. Mildred tells him to hand it in to Captain Beatty, but if it really is the last Bible Montag doesn't want to destroy it.... (full context)
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...of his who owns a printing press. He also agrees to help Montag deal with Captain Beatty and give Beatty a substitute book instead of the Bible. Faber gives Montag a... (full context)
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At the firehouse, Montag hands over a book to Beatty, who welcomes him back to work and tosses the book in the wastebasket without reading... (full context)
Part 3
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As the neighbors come out to watch, Montag glances toward Clarisse's empty house. Beatty notices and mocks Montag for being influenced by her nonsense. Mildred runs out of her... (full context)
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Beatty orders Montag to destroy his own house with a flamethrower or get hunted down by... (full context)
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Beatty arrests Montag, then mocks him for the foolishness and snobbery that led him to quote... (full context)
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...to the backyard, grabs four remaining books, and limps away. He suddenly feels certain that Beatty actually wanted to die. As he runs, Montag fishes out a Seashell radio from his... (full context)
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...undeniably captivating to see the arrival of a new Mechanical Hound to the scene of Beatty 's death, and is tempted to stay and watch until the end. (full context)