Set in the 24th century, Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of the protagonist, Guy Montag, who at the start of the story takes pleasure in his profession as a fireman. His job is not to put out fires-houses are now fireproofed-but rather to set fires to burn books, and the houses in which they are kept illegally.
Montag soon began to question the value of his profession and his life when he developed a friendship with a 16 years old neighbor named Clarisse McClellan. Her humanistic outlook and inquisitive nature prompted Montag to examine himself. He realized that he is unhappy in his relationship with his wife, Millie, who was unwilling to deal with reality and instead she chose to immerse herself in a virtual world provided to her by TV and radio. He questioned his occupation as a book burner as he began to wonder what it was about books that made them so dangerous.
As the thought of books tormented him, he stole a book from a collection that he had been sent to burn. Soon after, he was shaken when the owner of the books, an old woman, who decided that she rather dies with her books than let it be taken away. She set fire to her house herself and remained there as the flames engulfed everything. After seeing that a person could feel so strongly about the books and the information within, Montag realized that perhaps the key to his happiness lies in the information within the books. He felt sick when he returned home because of the scenes that he had witnessed and the thoughts of guiltiness from his career. When he learned that Clarisse had been killed for more than a week from his wife, Millie, his conditions worsened.