We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the constitution says, but everyone
madeequal . . . A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind.
Captain Beatty speaks these lines toward the end of “The Hearth and the Salamander” while explaining the revisionist history of firemen to Montag in his home. It is important to note that Beatty’s whole speech has an ironic sound. He defends the disintegration of authenticity in a passionate, almost regretful tone. He is willing to defend the “equalization” of society while still remaining educated himself, and denounces the use of books as weapons while freely using them that way himself. Because of these ambiguities, Beatty is the most complex character in the book, and he uses his book-educated mind, his “loaded gun,” to manipulate Montag mercilessly. One wonders, as Faber does, if he chose his job after a fall from faith in books, as he claims, or to enable himself to gain legal access to books through his position of authority.