Analyzing Montag's Actions and Realizations in order to Determine Theme

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SWBAT analyze how characters develop over the course of a text and help to develop a theme by tracing how Montag has changed and what he realizes throughout the course of Fahrenheit 451.

Big Idea

Montag thinks that Beatty wanted to die. Is he right?

Getting Started

5 minutes

At the beginning of class, I will ask if students have any questions about their homework. Yesterday, I gave them an open response and two nights to complete it. I will give a few minutes so that students can ask questions about expectations.

Read: Montag reacts to Beatty

20 minutes

pages 117-121

We are going to read 5 pages before pausing to write. In these pages, Beatty taunts Montag and threatens Faber, so Montag finally reacts. He points the flame thrower at the Captain and fires. Then he does the same to the other firemen on duty and the mechanical hound, as it injects its poison into his leg. I don't plan to pause often in these pages because I feel like they are designed to be read fast. Everything happens so quickly and I want students to feel that frenzy (RL.9-10.5). When we reach the break in the page, I will go back to the paragraph that describes Beatty's death and we will spend some time analyzing the brutal depiction. Take a look.


This is not the same Montag that we met at the beginning of the text. He is no longer content and worry-free, but a desperate man searching for answers. We will discuss this change (RL.9-10.3). The brutal description of Beatty's murder shows just how desperate Montag is.

Journal Writing

15 minutes

At the break in the page, we will also break in the reading and spend more time thinking about what we read. I will ask students to think about this question: Did Beatty want to die? It will seem like a crazy question, but I will ask students to consider how to answer the question. They will need to go into the section we read and analyze his last moments. Then they will have 10 minutes to write a response (W.9-10.10).


In the next section we will read today, Montag decides that Beatty did indeed want to die. Therefore, this time spent journaling prepares them for his realization, whether or not they agree with Montag.

Read: Beatty wanted to die

15 minutes

pages 121-125

In this section, Montag runs. He becomes a fugitive and flees the scene of his crime. We will pause in our reading when Montag declares that Beatty wanted to die to ask what everyone thinks about the statement. We will also discuss the way the sentence is written: it is italicized and written as its own paragraph. It is written so that we pay attention to it (RL.9-10.5).


This realization about Beatty is an important moment for Montag. He doesn't fully understand what he is running toward, but he begins to understand what he is running from. Everyone in this society did not acknowledge their own unhappiness, much like Montag when we met him, but Beatty knew better than anyone else what society was missing; he knew he was unhappy, but didn't act to change it. We might pity him more in this moment than we had prior to it. Ultimately, we are learning just how important it is to have an active mind and freedom. As we talk about what Montag is learning, we will also connect it to life (RL.9-10.2).

Wrapping Up

5 minutes

In the last few minutes of class, I will remind them of their homework: they need to finish their open responses, assigned yesterday. Although we discussed it at the beginning of class, I think it's important to always remind students just before they walk out the door.