Mildred alerts the authorities that Montag has books. Montag and his fellow firemen go to his house and Montag burns everything in the house. Betty warns that the Mechanical Hound is there if he tires to escape. Then, Beatty sees that Montag is listening to an earpice and whacks him on the head then, tries to arrest him. Montag burns burns Beatty with a flamethrower and thinks that Beatty actually wanted Montag to kill him. Montag then makes his escape after warning the other firemen not to come close and burning the Mechanical Dog. He picks up what's left of the books and makes his way to another fireman's house.
Montag is able to escape another Mechanical Hound by going to Faber's house and turning the sprinklers on high, burning everything that he touched at Faber's, turning the AC on high, and spraying bug spray. Montag takes Faber's dirties clothes and whisky with him. They plan to meet up in St. Louis.
At the river, Montag takes his clothes on and puts on Faber's and then douses his whole body in whiskey. On his way down the river, he compares the sun to his constant burning of books. He decides to never burn again. He enjoys the silence and nature and wonders if this is what Faber meant about happiness. He sees a deer and then feels sadness for Mildred.
Montag finds a group of older men who used to be professors. They left the city because they were ostracized. Their leader, Granger, hit a fireman and has been running ever since. Each man has memorized a different book and are now the experts about it. They hold onto this knowledge to pass onto the next generation who wants to listen, and they don't consider themselves above anyone else. Montag is responsible for remembering the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Montag talks about not remembering much about Mildred and Granger talks about his grandfather, a sculptor, who told him how to live life. Montag sees jets flying over the city because it was in a war with someone else at the the time. He sees them drop their bombs and then, BOOM! The whole city gets destroyed, the war is over in less than a second. Montag cries out for Mildred, Faber, and Clarisse, then rembers that Clarisse is dead.
The group is knocked back from the shock wave that is produced by the explosion. Montag remembers a bit from Ecclesiastes and Revelation that he memorized. Granger talks about a story of the Phoenix rising from the ashes. The group walks back to the city to see if there were any survivors.