Fahrenheit 451 can be boiled down to a story of a man in course of soul searching, but, as it usually happens with Ray Bradbury’s works, the reader is completely immersed into his fictitious world outlined with creepy detalization.The timeline is XXIV century, and life in this period is fast and depreciated.
In Part 1, “The Hearth and the Salamander”, we meet the protagonist, Guy Montag, in course of his work, while he enjoys the feeling the books burning brings to him.
He is a fireman, his job is to burn and he really loves doing it, each sense involved. On his way he meets Clarisse Mc Clellan, a girl who characterizes herself as being “seventeen and mad”.
The old lady refuses to leave the house and her library, so she waits for firemen to spread kerosene and lights the match.
On their way back to the station, Montag tries to remember the old lady’s words, and, shockingly, Captain Beatty is not only quoting them correctly, but also states the author, date and circumstances at which these words were said. Mildred chatters about something but he’s too lost in thoughts about old lady’s suicide and stolen book to pay any attention to her words.
”Montag doesn’t want to acknowledge that he is not, but the reality has a nasty surprise for him: at home he finds his wife Mildred nearly dead due to overdose of sleeping pills.
No wonder that he’s horrified, and bomber aircrafts flying over his house with a thunderous noise are not just merely hinting that the country is on the verge of war, but also serve as acoustic counterpoint to Montag’s despair.When Montag tries to remind her about it, she just waves him away, being busy reading the scenario of a day-time interactive soap opera.At the same time she cannot tell what the teleplay is about and just nags her husband about getting the forth TV-wall (i.e., a wall-size TV screen), forgetting that they’ve got a third one only two months ago and had to shorten their spends in many ways. She’s visiting a psychiatrist, because her habits of walking, watching birds and butterflies, tasting the rain etc. A childish “dandelion test” shows that she is in love with somebody, while Montag is not.He calls medical attention, but instead of physicians, technicians arrive.They are completely uncaring, doing their job almost mechanically.Later at night he watches Mildred suffering from insomnia: she uses “Seashells”, radio-ear-plugs and barely hears anything else.Suddenly Montag asks her if she remembers when and where they’ve met for the first time.Montag is practically sure that this is the case, for he has a little secret of his own, hidden behind the ventilation grate.When he mentions this possibility to his chief fireman, Captain Beatty, the answer is only taunting. Every day Montag meets Clarisse, he sees her shaking the tree and knitting, she leaves him small presents – a bouquet of autumn flowers, a packet of chestnuts and so on.EMT’s receive a call for another overdose and leave Montag to observe as new blood returns some color on Mildred’s face and reflect somberly on the possibility to purify not only her stomach and blood vessels, but her flesh, brain and memory, even her soul.After some time he goes outside to get some fresh air and overhears Clarisse and her family talking about the value of human life in modern world, comparing it to a paper napkin.