The firemen of Fahrenheit 451 create fires rather than put them out. Montag, the protagonist, is a fireman in a world where expression and thought are censored in favor for conformity and "equality". He is initially a product of the system.
Leaving work, Montag meets a young girl named Clarisse, who does not fit in with society. She questions everything, loves nature, and always looks for something more meaningful. She points out the problems of society and asks Montag if he is truly happy. He then becomes disillusioned with his work and begins to question the world around him.
Returning home, Montag discovers that his wife, Mildred, has overdosed on sleeping pills. After she recovers, she claims that she does not remember what happens; however, it is implied that she was not satisfied with her life and attempted suicide.
On a mission, Montag witnesses a woman, who refuses to relinquish her books, burn herself along with her books. Montag realizes that books must be important, as someone would give up their life for them, so he takes a book to discover its meaning.
Later on, Fire Captain Beatty visits Montag and lectures him about books – their origin, role in society, and insignificance in contemporary life. He is aware that Montag stole a book and tells him that he has 24 hours to return it. After he leaves, it is revealed that Montag has more books.
Montag contacts Faber, a retired English professor, and is interested reading more about books. Faber informs Montag about the central traits and discuss how they could bring books back into the public. Afterwards, Faber eventually agrees to assist Montag in giving him a substitute book and talking to Captain Beatty, giving him the two-way ear radio.