It’s perpetual motion; the thing man wanted to invent but never did. . . . It’s a mystery. . . . Its real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences . . . clean, quick, sure; nothing to rot later. Antibiotic, aesthetic, practical.
Beatty speaks these lines to Montag outside Montag’s home in “Burning Bright,” right before Montag burns him to death with the flamethrower. He muses about the mystical nature of fire, its unexplained beauty, and the fascination it holds for people. With characteristic irony, Beatty, who has just accused Montag of not considering the consequences of his actions, then defines the beauty of fire as its ability to destroy consequences and responsibilities. What he describes is very nearly a cult of fire, a fitting depiction of their society’s devotion to cleanliness and destruction. Unfortunately, Montag turns Beatty’s philosophy against him by turning the flamethrower on his boss, inflicting an “antibiotic, aesthetic, practical” death.