This story is by Ray Bradbury and it’s a science fiction novel. It was written in Los Angeles, California during 1950-1953. This is a third-person, limited omniscient; follows Montag’s point of view, often articulating his interior monologues. The setting is sometime in the twenty-fourth century around an unspecified city; there have been two atomic wars since 1990. Montag is a fireman in charge of burning books in a grim, futuristic United States. The book opens with a brief description of the pleasure he experiences while on the job one evening.
He wears a helmet emblazoned with the numeral 451 a black uniform with a salamander on the arm, and a phoenix disc on his chest. On his way home from the fire station, he feels a sense of nervous anticipation. After suspecting a lingering nearby presence, he meets his new neighbor, an unusual seventeen-year-old named Clarisse McClellan. She immediately recognizes him as a fireman and seems fascinated by him and his uniform. She explains that she is crazy and proceeds to suggest that the original duty of firemen was to extinguish fires rather than to light them.
She asks him about his job and tells him that she comes from a strange family that does such peculiar things as talk to each other and walk places. Clarisse’s strangeness makes Guy nervous, and he laughs repeatedly and involuntarily. She reminds him in different ways of candlelight, a clock, and a mirror. He cannot help feeling somehow attracted to her: she fascinates him with her outrageous questions, unorthodox lifestyle, perceptive observations, and incredible power of identification.
She asks him if he is happy and then disappears into her house. Montag is disturbed by his meeting with Clarisse because he is not used to talking with people about personal subjects. Upon returning home, he realizes that he is not happy after all, and that his appearance of happiness up to this point has been a pretense. He continues to experience feelings of foreboding. He finds his wife, Mildred, in bed listening to earplug just as he has found her every night for the past two years.
By her bed, he accidentally kicks an empty bottle of sleeping pills and calls the hospital just as a sonic boom from a squadron of jet bombers shakes the house. Two cynical hospital workers arrive with a machine that pumps Mildred’s stomach and another that replaces all her poisoned blood with fresh blood. Montag goes outside and listens to the laughter and the voices coming from the brightly lit McClellan house. Montag goes inside again and considers all that has happened to him that night.
He feels terribly disoriented as he takes a sleep lozenge and dozes off. He searches for a reason for his unhappiness in the books, which he has apparently been stealing for some time. Mildred is frightened of them, but Montag is determined to involve her in his search, and he asks for forty-eight hours of support from her to look through the books in hopes of finding something valuable that they can share with others. Someone comes to the door, but they do not answer and he goes away. Montag picks up a copy of Gulliver’s Travels and begins reading.