In life, people are taught the accepted truth. Fahrenheit 451 teaches the accepted truth as well. Because technology had developed so much over the years, there was no need for books anymore; therefore, everyone was taught that books were bad and dangerous. Claire Datnow quotes, "Firemen do not put out fires, they set fires to books because the ideas in them could be dangerous." (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers, pg. 48.) Knowledge is only what is accepted in society.
Guy Montag starts out as a normal man, a firefighter, who does his job and does it well. He believes what he is told to believe. But when he has to go burn down a house with and old woman who refuses to leave her house and her books, Montag begins to question everything he has ever been taught. After the old woman pours gasoline over herself and sets herself on fire, Montag goes home and becomes sick.
His boss Beatty comes to talk to him, to try and comfort him and make him see that it's not really that big of a deal.
Beatty is an example of a former idea of cultural health. He is an example of the old way things are taught and how much it has changed. When he is talking to Montag when Montag is sick, he gives a long speech that gives an impression of life and spirit but it really has neither of these. It is simply "little more than an assortment of super-structural effects that tells little about anything that led up to the present events." (Ray Bradbury; Starmont Reader's Guide 31, pg. 44)
Beatty believes that book burnings have gone on since the Civil War, because this is the accepted truth. He also explains to Montag about how intellectual became a...