Guy Montag Character Analysis

Guy Montag is a regular man. He wakes up, goes to work in the morning, comes home to his wife, and then starts the cycle over again. However, Guy soon finds that the life of the firehouse and television screens is not as it seems. There is a whole new world of knowledge he has been destroying with his own hand. This world of books and new realities throws Guy Montag into his own complicated monomyth journey. Montag’s adventure begins when he meets a strange girl named Clarisse McClellen. She speaks of weird things like love and a man in the moon.

Montag sees her almost everyday after work and during each discussion she invites him to reflect on his life and the way he thinks. Clarisse makes him feel free. She makes him feel like he can do something more than the monotony of everyday life. Clarisse even asks Montag “Are you happy?” (page 10) after which Montag realizes he is indeed not happy. Montag determines “He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself. He recognized this as the true state of affairs. He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back.” (page 10)

After his enlightening discussions with Clarisse he is forced to return to his wife, Mildred, who is always attached to her technology and completely disconnected to the real world. She can’t even connect to Guy, who she has been married to for ten years. Seeing the world through the eyes of Clarisse and then coming home and interacting with Mildred, a total product of society, Montag begins to think there must be more to life. This can be referred to as Montag’s call to adventure, the first stage of the monomyth. The veil over Montag’s eyes has been removed and he is now seeing a possible reality unlike his own. He doesn’t really understand what is going on, but he is willing to dive head first into this great mystery. “I’m going to do something,” Montag says, “I don’t even know what yet, but I’m going to do something big.” (Page 94)

Montag has been a fireman, like the men in his family before him, for many years. He has burned possibly hundreds of books. However, when a woman sacrifices herself to be burned with her books rather than watch them be destroyed, Montag begins to wonder if there is something more to books. He realizes he is contributing to the mindlessness of society as a fireman. Montag contacts a man he had previously met, Faber, who agrees to help him understand books and print more. Although Montag has more of an understanding of books, he still has an internal conflicting desire that makes him want to keep his knowledge and possession of books a secret, but also reveal everything he knows to the world.

Montag reads a sad passage from a book of poetry to Mildred’s friends, revealing that he is in possession of a book. The women become upset and Mildred sequesters herself in her room as a result. This eventually leads Montag to an intense confrontation with his fire captain, Beatty, after he returns a book he took. “Read a few lines and off you go over the cliff,” (page 106) Beatty says. These are examples of challenges Montag goes through as he works through his monomyth. He had to work through theses many scary challenges in order to move toward a better reality. Montag’s confusion and rebellion culminates in a fury of destruction and murder. The firemen are called to a book burning a home that turns out to be Montag’s. In a flash of terrified madness, he murders his own captain, Beatty, in the middle of the street. A police hound chase ensues. He is able to escape with the help of his friend, Faber.

Montag is filled with remorse about the horrible things he has done both to himself and the people around him. He is nearly captured by the police mechanical hound, but escapes down a river where he finds a group of disgraced professors that are determined to bring books back to the world. Montag has found his people and his truth. As Montag sits with his new friends, a bomb destroys their old city, blowing them off their feet. Because Montag’s old life no longer exists, he cannot return to the world he once knew. He decides, “Somewhere the saving and putting away had to begin again and someone had to do the saving and the keeping, one way or another, in books, in records, in people’s heads, any way at all so long as it was safe, free from moths, silverfish, rust and dry-rot, and men with matches.” (page 141).

With this bomb comes a new resolve in Montag’s mind to create a new, better, world for the friends and family he has just lost. It is through the wild journey of Guy Montag that one can see the portrayal of the monomyth. He begins with a stark realization that his world is not as it seems. Then, he breaks from this world in an act of rebellion he steals and reads books to try to find the happiness he so desperately desires. In the end, Montag returns to his world in a big way with the resolve to make things better. It is through the actions of the fictional Guy Montag the reader sees how the monomythic journey can come to pass in the hearts and actions of man.

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