By Bradbury Ray
By Bradbury Ray
Ray Bradbury (1920-) is a distinguished and prolific science fiction writer, probably best known for his futuristic novel Fahrenheit 451. The title refers to the temperature at which paper burns. Bradbury first wrote the short story The Fireman in 1951 for the magazine Galaxy Science Fiction. Bradbury expanded the story and published Fahrenheit 451 in 1953.
Scholars often link the novel to the historic backdrop of 1950s America. Some see the book, written soon after World War II, as a response to censorship practiced by the Nazi regime. Others cite Senator Joseph McCarthy’s investigations into evidence of Communism among the creative elite. According to Bradbury, one must not look further than the rise of television for the true inspiration.
Bradbury has been vocal about the often-misinterpreted novel. He insists the novel is not about government censorship. Rather, the book’s moral warns of the dumbing down of people through television. Television and radio, according to Bradbury, informs its viewers of “factoids” rather than ideas.
Unlike other novels of the dystopian genre, the people willingly agree to live under such conditions. Bradbury envisions a society of minorities, so easily offended, that gradually all literary material is labeled as distasteful. The populace opts instead for inoffensive, vanilla television for entertainment. The people stop reading and only then does the government employ censorship. In addition, Bradbury added a coda to the 1979 paperback edition. The coda rants against editors and readers suggesting censorship of his novels in the name of political correctness.
Guy Montag is a fireman. In the future, firemen do not put out fires. They start them.
Books are illegal, and libraries are burned, along with the homes where they are found. Most people do not miss literature and instead spend their days listening to the radio or watching unintelligent television programming.
Montag begins to question his life after a series of events. First, he meets a peculiar young girl, full of questions and unusual behavior. She would rather spend the day with nature than in front of the television. The whimsical curiosity of the young girl greatly affects Montag. Then, one day she disappears.
Saddened by the loss of a new friend, Montag answers a call to burn an illegal library. The owner refuses to leave her books and burns to death with them. Montag is appalled by the episode, wondering what could be inside the some 20 books he has stolen from sites over the years.
After showing his wife the hidden library, she reports him. Demoralized, Montag is forced to extinguish his own home. Afterward, the fire captain threatens to visit Montag’s ally. Montag murders him and fleas with the remaining books, his dramatic pursuit televised. He finds a group of roaming intellectuals who memorize books in the hope the words can be revived one day. Shortly after his escape, the city is demolished by war. The group hopes the destruction will provide the opening to rebuild civilization based on deeper ideals.
In Bradbury’s world, books are outlawed. As a fireman, Montag burns illegal books and the houses in which they are found. A variety of factors led up to this government control. As population explodes, more groups of minorities develop, taking issue with literature that offends them. In addition, television and radio provide entertainment requiring less concentration and intellectual work. Information overload also played a role in people retreating to their parlor rooms. Ultimately, Bradbury says, the people invited censorship by deciding to not read books. Books became briefer until they disappeared altogether. Only when the people stopped reading did the government forbid them.
After her overdose, technicians arrive to pump Mildred’s stomach. It is a common occurrence, they say dispassionately, smoking cigarettes. The firemen mention that one poor soul programmed the mechanical hound to hunt his own chemical balance, resulting in a gruesome suicide. Later, Captain Beatty does not fight Montag’s threats of murder, leading Montag to presume Beatty wanted to die. And in a key moment of the novel, a woman uses her own match to burn herself with her books rather than give up her illegal library. In a society that caters to universal happiness, for many in the novel, the happiness proves to be empty.
At the Montag home, Mildred watches television that spans three walls. She bugs Montag to spring for a fourth. The walls even allow her to interact with characters. If she is not watching television, she has “Seashell Radios” stuffed in her ears. Faber gives Montag a similar invention that allows two-way communication. Cars drive at extraordinary speed. The mechanical hound hunts and demolishes its prey programmed to target a specific scent. Bradbury’s world, created in the 1950s, includes many examples of advanced technology. He highlights the negative consequences of technology, culminating in the destruction of the city by bombardment.
In Bradbury’s world, television has replaced intellectual thought and meaningful, personal relationships. Mildred watches television constantly and refers to the characters as “family”. She cares more about these relatives than Montag, whom she shows little love. Montag tells Faber that television “is real” for Mildred. “It tells you what to think and blasts it in,” he says. The rise of television led to the censorship of books because the people chose television over books. In that decision, the people chose a more superficial world as television provides only “factoids”, leaving more complex concepts unearthed.
Faber is an out-of-work professor due to lack of interest in the liberal arts. He is an outcast, as is Granger and Clarisse. Beatty recalls the high school days of hating on the smart kid. The sediment becomes policy, as intellectual “snobs” are closely watched by the government. According to Beatty, “the word intellectual became the swear word it deserved to be.” No one wants to be made to feel less intelligent, and, therefore, firemen serve as “custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior,” says Beatty.
At the end of their first meeting, Clarisse asks Montag if he is happy. Puzzled by the question, he returns home to find his wife has overdosed. What at first seems like a ridiculous question takes on new meaning for Montag. Society’s main motive for state-sponsored censorship is to keep everyone happy and unoffended. However, with suicide so common, it is evident that the happiness is not genuine. In a world where the people have institutionalized the idea of “ignorance is bliss”, anyone who would challenge this is seen as impending on happiness and is disposed.
Beatty explains the origin of censorship to Montag. As population explodes, so do the minority groups, who take offense to anything that fails to put them in a less than positive light. “Don’t step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants….,” Beatty says. In his coda added to the 1979 paperback edition, Bradbury retaliates against those recommending he change his books to fit a more politically correct vision. “There is more than one way to burn a book,” he writes. “And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”
Most of the characters in the book die. Clarisse falls victim to a speeding car. Montag murders Beatty. The old woman burns herself rather than give up her books. Most of the other characters are presumed dead when the city is leveled. Beyond the physical deaths lies the paradox of living. At one point, Montag reflects on the irony of referring to the room with the television as the “living room”. Montag gradually comes to believe the emptiness of life has led to a society of the walking dead, lacking the deep relationships and meaning required to feel alive.
The mechanical hound is programmed to hunt its prey based on chemical disposition. Montag speculates as to whether the robot likes him. “It doesn’t like or dislike. It just functions,” says Beatty. “It doesn’t think anything we don’t want it to think.” The government exercises similar control over the people. For example, no one talks about the war. Mrs. Phelps does not worry about her solider husband because the President insists the coming battle will be a quick victory. Such programming is made easier when everyone is distracted with entertainment, mainly television programming.
When Montag speaks to Mildred, she never gives him her full attention. Her mind is always at least partially devoted to the television or radio. The people of this society are constantly being distracted from reality and are tricked into thinking that the entertainment is “real”. When Montag tries to read a book on the subway, he struggles to block out the commercial jingle playing over the speaker system. In this world, constant, loud stimulation makes it nearly impossible to concentrate. This way, the people are not thinking about more important things, such as the impending war or the infringements on freedom.
The protagonist is a fireman charged with enforcing government oppression by burning illegal books. Throughout the novel, he grows increasingly disgruntled with the superficial society and his role in state sponsored censorship. Doubts are intensified after meeting a young, inquisitive girl and witnessing a woman chose to burn to death with her books. After revealing his own hidden library to his wife, Montag is ordered to burn his own home. He murders the fire captain and runs, prompting a dramatic televised police chase. He escapes and finds a group of wandering intellectuals who memorize books.
Montag’s wife Mildred is not unlike many. Her life revolves around mindless entertainment. She often has radio speakers stuffed in her ears or watches her “family” on three walls of television. Mildred’s true happiness comes in to question when she overdoses on sleeping pills. She does not remember the episode the next day, nor is she concerned. Montag and Mildred show little affection or empathy toward each other. Neither can remember when or where they met, and Mildred does not seem to care. When Montag shows her the books he has stolen, she betrays him by reporting the library.
Montag meets his new neighbor Clarisse on his way to work one night. While at first uneasy around the strange girl, the two develop a fast friendship. The carefree 17-year-old is more interested in nature and talking to people than watching television. She describes herself as “crazy”, and is forced to see a psychiatrist for her “anti-social” behavior. At their first meeting, she asks Montag if he is happy. The question has a profound effect on Montag. Clarisse along with her questions serve as a catalyst for Montag’s voyage of self-discovery. Later, Clarisse dies when he is hit by a car.
Montag comes home one night to find his wife, Mildred, has overdosed on sleeping pills. Montag calls the paramedics and two cigarette-smoking technicians arrive. They haul in a machine that pumps her stomach and provides a complete blood transfusion. They explain that such calls are a regular occurrence. Montag is struck by the fact that the two are not doctors, and secondly by how nonchalant they both are. The impersonal technicians appear to have little sympathy or decorum, a common attribute in the novel. The incident haunts Montag throughout the novel.
Montag’s boss at the firehouse suspects Montag of wrongdoing. The proud fire captain lectures Montag on the rationale for firemen and the pitfalls of giving into curiosity and stealing books. Using literary references in his arguments, he insists there is no value in books. The fireman’s role is to ensure that everyone remains happy and comfortable, he says. Later, the men arrive at Montag’s house to burn his illegal library. After Beatty forces him to burn his own house, Montag murders him with a flamethrower. Montag later concludes that Beatty wanted to die.
Montag meets Faber in the park about a year before the story takes place. Montag knows Faber has a book under his coat as the two converses, but Montag does nothing about it. Faber becomes comfortable enough to quote poetry and give Montag his contact information. Montag remembers the unemployed professor when he feels he has no one else to turn to. Faber gives him a two-way radio he invented so the two can communicate. While on the lam, Montag apologizes for involving him. Faber is delighted to help, however, and tells him he feels alive again working for the cause he was always to frighten to support.
Granger is the apparent leader of the wandering group of intellectuals that Montag meets after fleeing the city. The scholar encourages Montag to recall the words of his chosen book, as the members all memorize a piece of literature. He puts confidence in the idea that everyone who has made a difference in the world can be deemed important. Montag listens to this and wonders what Mildred has done that could ever be considered important. As the novel closes, Granger leads the group to rebuild civilization after witnessing the city be destroyed.
Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles
Mildred’s friends arrive one evening to watch television. Montag angrily shuts the parlor walls off and asks Mrs. Phelps about the impending war. Mrs. Phelps says she is not worried about her solider husband and shows little affection for him. Mrs. Bowles displays a similar affinity for her children, allowing the parlor walls to do the babysitting. The two voted for the current president because he was the more handsome of the two candidates. Montag reads a poem to the two ladies, after which Mrs. Phelps cries. Mrs. Bowles scolds Montag for upsetting her and the two report the books.
Black and Stoneman
Montag’s two fellow firemen willfully perform their duties in burning illegal books. When Montag questions whether firemen ever put out fires rather than start them, Black and Stoneman pull out their rule books and show him the blurb about the Firemen of America’s founding by Ben Franklin to burn English-influenced books. When the firemen show up at Montag’s house to burn his illegal library, Montag threatens the two with a flamethrower and knocks them out. On his way to Faber’s house, he plants books in Black’s house and phones in an alarm.
Woman with library
The firemen rush to what should be a routine call to burn an illegal library. As the firemen crash the place, Montag steals a book. He begs the woman with the library to leave the house before it is set ablaze. She refuses to leave, lighting her own kitchen match, burning herself with her books. Montag is left physically ill by the situation. The episode leaves Montag wondering what could possibly be inside those pages that could spark so much defiance. It is a defining moment that pushes Montag over the edge.
With eight insect-like legs, the mechanical hound is set to track a person’s specific chemical balance and inject its prey with a numbing needle. The hound thinks only what it is programmed to think, according to Beatty. Montag suspects the hound is programmed to growl at him, but Beatty discounts his suspicions. Beatty, however, sends the hound sniffing around the house to warn Montag. Later, Montag destroys the hound with a flamethrower, but not before the hound injects him with its needle. Later, the authorities release another hound, but Montag throws off his scent and escapes.
At first glance, Guy Montag appears to enjoy his job. With the number 451 emblazoned on his helmet, he finds pleasure in his destructive vocation. Modern buildings may be fireproof, but the role of the fireman has evolved rather than become obsolete. Firemen start fires. Firemen, like Montag, are charged with the task of burning books.
It takes a conversation with an unusual 17-year-old to introduce a sense of unease into Montag’s complacency. At their first meeting, Clarisse McClellan describes herself as “crazy”, because she does “crazy” things like sit around and talks with her family members. Even though many fear fireman, Clarisse does not fear Montag. She asks Montag if firemen used to extinguish fires rather than start them. He laughs at the thought.
Clarisse is odd. She would rather walk in the night air and smell things than watch television. Most people enjoy television and driving so fast, they miss the beauty around them, she says. According to her uncle, billboards used to be 20-feet wide, as opposed to 200-feet wide, because people did not use to drive so fast. At first uneasy, Montag becomes charmed by his inquisitive new neighbor. Before parting, Clarisse asks Montag if he is happy. This question haunts him as he returns home.
Montag arrives home to find his wife, Mildred, overdosed on sleeping pills. Technicians arrive with a machine that pumps her stomach and gives her a blood transfusion. The disinterested technicians indicate that such calls are common and the procedure routine. In the morning, Mildred does not remember the night before and appears unconcerned.
Mildred represents the typical citizen of Bradbury’s grim vision of the future America. She spends her days listening to the “Seashell Radios” stuffed in her ears and watching three walls of television in the parlor room. Technology allows her to interact with televised people, whom she refers to as her relatives.
On his way to work, Montag encounters Clarisse again. This time, she introduces doubts regarding his love for his wife. In addition, Clarisse tells Montag that she sees a psychiatrist because she displays “anti-social” behavior, such as hiking, bird watching, collecting butterflies, and simply sitting and thinking. Clarisse then questions him about why he became a fireman and receives no answer.
At the firehouse, Montag studies the mechanical hound with its eight legs. The firemen can program the robotic hound to target a particular chemical balance and inject numbing chemicals with a large needle. The hound growls menacingly at Montag, prompting him to speculate as to whether the hound was programmed to do so. Captain Beatty discounts his concerns, sensing a bit of guilt from Montag.
Meetings with Clarisse become routine over the next week. Montag finds their conversations relaxing. Then one day, she is gone, leaving Montag to worry.
At the firehouse, Montag asks what happened to the man whose books they burned the week before. Beatty answers that the man was sent to an insane asylum. He then asks if firemen were ever charged with putting out fires rather than starting them. The other men take out their rulebooks and remind him of an excerpt that says the Firemen of America was established in 1790 by Benjamin Franklin to burn English-influenced books.
The bell rings and the firemen race to a new location. They ransack the place, gathering books and magazines for the blaze. In the confusion, Montag finds himself stealing a book. Returning to his duty, Montag begs the owner to leave the home. The woman refuses to leave, opting instead to burn with her books. She pulls out her own match and lights the kerosene-soaked books.
Rattled by the experience, Montag wonders what could possibly be in those books that would be worth dying. He returns home obviously shaken, hiding the stolen book under his pillow. In bed, Montag asks Mildred when and where they met. Neither could remember. Montag finds this troubling. Mildred deems it unimportant as she swallows more sleeping pills. He remembers the night she overdosed and questions if he would have cried had she died.
Later, Montag asks Mildred about the neighbor girl Clarisse. Mildred says she forgot to tell him that the girl was hit by a car and killed. The family moved away. Montag cannot believe she forgot to tell him this. Later that night, Montag senses the hound preying outside the house.
The next day, Montag feels sick and does not go to work. The smell of kerosene makes him vomit. Mildred shows little compassion for the sickly Montag, even after he tells her about the burning woman. He asks her how she would feel if he quit his job for a while. Mildred is furious at the suggestion that one woman’s death is worth giving up a job.
Surprisingly, Captain Beatty arrives, seemingly aware of Montag’s increasing misgivings toward his job. He comes prepared to lecture on the history of his profession. Beatty explains that as population explodes, minority groups form that may take issue with literature. Montag listens, the stolen book still hidden under his pillow. Mildred attempts to adjust his pillow and Montag struggles to keep her away from the hidden plunder. Beatty continues: Books do not agree with each other and thus fail to tell a coherent narrative of inarguable facts. “Slippery” subjects such as philosophy fall out of favor, along with liberal arts college enrollment. Anti-intellectualism reigns, with inoffensive television taking the place of books. The goal of the firemen is to keep people happy and comfortable, safe from “conflicting theory.”
Mildred finally finds the hidden book and reacts, but leaves the room as the two firemen continue the conversation. Beatty says every fireman is tempted to steal a book, but there is nothing of value inside. When firemen are caught stealing a book, they are given 24 hours to burn it.
After Beatty leaves, Montag feels compelled to show his wife some 20 books he has stolen over the years. Mildred panics. Montag insists on looking at them. If Beatty is correct and they provide no value, they will burn them together. Someone comes to the door again, but the two do not answer.
Montag skims through the books frantically trying to find meaning. He often connects passages to his dead neighbor. Mildred acts uninterested and resists helping her husband, calling books unreal. Meanwhile, Montag see signs of the hound prowling outside the house, which Mildred identifies as a dog. Mildred worries about the consequences of reading the books and insists she receives more meaning from her “family” on the parlor walls.
Bombers cross the skies above the house as they do every hour, prompting Montag to wonder aloud why no one talks about America’s wars. Rumors say that while American society has its fun and riches, parts of the world starve and garner hatred for America. Montag’s speech is interrupted by the phone and Mildred dives into a mindless conversation about a television show. At this moment, Montag appears to give up on Mildred. His mind races for someone else to turn to.
Suddenly, he remembers a chance encounter in the park about a year ago. There, he saw an old man quickly hide something in his coat. The man attempted to flee, and Montag stopped him. The old man defiantly declared his innocence, but Montag calmed him with some small talk. The man turned out to be a retired English professor who was out of work due to the lack of interest in the liberal arts. The professor, named Faber, eased gradually throughout the one-hour conversation, even quoting poetry. Montag suspected Faber of hiding a book under his coat, but was not interested in exposing the professor. Before parting, Faber provided Montag with his contact information.
Based on the listing at the firehouse, Montag had come to suspect that he was in possession of the last copy of the Bible and other books. He calls Faber and zealously interrogates him. Faber anxiously confirms Montag’s suspicions and hangs up on him. Montag decides he must leave to make a copy of the Bible before returning the original to Beatty. Before leaving, Montag asks Mildred if her parlor wall “family” loves her. She is confused by the question.
On the subway, Montag sits with the book in full view. He wonders if he could memorize from the book. The daunting task reminds him of a time as a child he tried to fill a sieve with sand, because a teasing cousin had promised him a dime to do it. He studies the book, only to have his concentration broken by a commercial jingle being played over the speaker system. His frustration turns to spectacle and his fellow passengers distance themselves from the crazed man.
Montag arrives at Faber’s house. Faber is reluctant to allow him in until Montag swears he is alone. Inside, Montag tells Faber that he stole the book that Faber is eager to examine. Turning the pages, Faber reflects on the current portrayal of Christ on television as a sugarcoated product peddler. Faber also confesses inaction against the crackdown on books, calling himself a coward. In turn, Montag expresses his growing dissatisfaction with the emptiness of modern life, false happiness, and his desire to find answers in books. He begs Faber to teach him to understand the significance of what he reads. Faber explains societal woes go beyond the elimination of books, adding that television could present similar intellectual curiosity instead of the unintelligent programming. He continues, saying books “are full of pores”, or tell deeper truths that may make people uncomfortable, which is what society needs: “quality, texture of information.” Society also needs leisure, or time to reflect on information, according to Faber. Finally, individuals require the right to act on this new information.
The two hatch a plan to plant books in firemen’s houses. The plan is soon rejected as lacking the interest to distract the public from the mindless parlor walls. Faber suggests Montag leave, to which he responds by ripping out pages of the Bible, much to the horror of Faber. Montag continues tearing, insisting Faber help him. Faber finally agrees to connect Montag with a printer. Before Montag leaves, Faber provides his invention that is similar to a “Seashell Radio” that allows the two to communicate.
War propaganda plays on the radio as Montag goes to the bank to retrieve money for the printer. Later that evening, Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles arrive to watch television with Mildred. Annoyed with the loud and ridiculous programming, Montag shuts off the walls, leaving the room silent. He asks about the impending war. Mrs. Phelps says she is not worried about her solider husband as the battle should be a quick victory. Mildred tries to redirect the conversation back to television, but Montag presses on, asking about the women’s children. Mrs. Bowles allows the parlor walls to do most of the parenting. Regarding politics, the women voted for the current president because he was more handsome than the other candidate.
This infuriates Montag. He exits the room and returns with a book of poetry. From the earpiece, Faber’s voice pleads him to stop. Shocked, Mildred attempts to defuse the situation by explaining that once a year firemen are allowed to bring a book home to see how silly they are. Faber urges Montag to go along with the lie, and Montag reluctantly agrees to do so. Mildred encourages Montag to read a poem to the ladies for a laugh. He proceeds to read a poem called Dover Beach. After finishing the poem, Mrs. Phelps was crying. Mrs. Bowles scolds Montag for upsetting her, confirming her belief that poetry leads to sadness. Montag then burns the book, but it is not enough for the women to stay. Montag lambastes the women as they leave with scathing personal attacks, ordering them to go home.
Montag finds that some of the books are missing and assumes Mildred has begun to dispose of them. He hides the rest in the backyard and heads to work. Montag turns in a book to Captain Beatty and joins his card game. Beatty quotes literature to try to arouse a response out of Montag, who remains quiet with the urging of Faber. The game is interrupted by the alarm, and Montag grudgingly prepares. When they arrive, Montag discovers they have come to his home.
Montag is in disbelief as he and Beatty stand outside Montag’s home. Beatty asks why Montag continued to harbor books even after he sent the mechanical hound to sniff around the house. Muttering to herself, Mildred leaves carrying a suitcase and disappears into a taxi and out of his life. Seeing torn books on the ground, Montag assumes Mildred had seen him hide the books in the backyard and taken them inside.
Beatty pokes at Montag, calling him a fool for thinking he would not get caught. He orders Montag to burn his house with a flamethrower. He complies and enjoys the act, receiving pleasure in burning the parlor room and other remnants of his former life. As the fire blazed, Beatty tells Montag that he will be under arrest once he is done.
Still holding the flamethrower, Montag asks Beatty if Mildred was the one who called in the alarm. Beatty nods adding that he let previous calls from her friends slide. Resuming his speech, Beatty demands to know why he did it. Receiving no answer, Beatty strikes Montag, dislodging the radio. Beatty picks the small earpiece off the ground and says they will trace it and pay his friend a visit. In response, Montag switches the safety catch on the flamethrower. This catches Beatty by surprise, but he soon recovers with a smile, requesting a pretentious final speech and daring him to pull the trigger. “We never burned right…,” Montag says before showering Beatty with flames. The other two firemen are silent as Beatty is reduced to ashes. Montag aims the flamethrower, orders them to turn around, and knocks them out. The mechanical hound leaps out of the night at Montag, and he catches the hound with a blast of fire, but not before the hound injects his massive needle, numbing his leg.
Montag struggles to his feet and limps forward in great pain, cursing his recent actions. He returns to the backyard and finds four books Mildred had not moved. He takes the books as sirens are heard. He hobbles for a while and collapses in an alley. Motionless, he sobs at the thought that Beatty wanted to die, and he was the one to kill him. He struggled up as he hears hurried footsteps. He heads toward Faber’s house. Listening to his Seashell Radio, he hears reports of the pursuit with reports on the brewing war. Crossing a boulevard, a car races toward him. Thinking it may be a cop car, Montag breaks into a sprint, stumbles and drops a book. The car swerves and blazes down the street. He concludes that the car was driven by kids aiming to hit him for entertainment, only avoiding him once he fell fearing the impact would roll the car. Thinking the fall saved his life, he continues to the house of a fellow fireman where he plants books and calls in an alarm.
Montag reaches Faber’s house and tells him what happened, not entirely believing it himself. He reflects on his life changing before his eyes. He is apologetic for involving Faber, but Faber says he feels alive again working for the cause. Montag gives Faber 100 dollars. Faber suggests Montag follow the river to railroad tracks where he heard camps of intellectuals roam. The two could reunite in St. Louis, where Faber is heading soon to meet a retired printer. Faber and Montag check a small television and see his name being plastered. They learn that a new mechanical hound has joined the chase. Montag instructs Faber to disinfect the house, burn the furniture, and turn on the air conditioner and sprinklers to kill the trail. He also takes a suitcase of Faber’s dirtiest clothes.
Montag runs. He runs past windows, seeing people watch Faber’s house on the parlor walls. He also sees the hound sniff and forge ahead on his trail. Over the Seashell Radio, he hears the announcer encouraging everyone to look outside on the count of ten to spot the fugitive. As the announcer reaches ten, he finds the river. He changes into Faber’s clothes and swims. The hound and helicopters reach the river and lose his trail. He floats down the calming water, feeling free to think.
The water guides him to shore. Soon, he finds the railroad tracks. He believes Clarisse has walked here before. After walking some time, he sees a flickering fire in the distance. He approaches to find people. He stands in the trees until he is invited inside. Granger, the apparent leader of the group, refers to Montag by his name. He offers a drink that will change his chemical index. The camp has a portable TV and had been expecting Montag. Granger informs Montag that the chase continues on television. Police zero in on an innocent scapegoat on a walk. Granger says the authorities need to save face after losing Montag at the river. The televised chase needed a satisfying climax, as well. The evening stroller no doubt had been known by the authorities, as such behavior was odd. Montag screams as the hound tackles the innocent. Montag is dead, the announcer says.
Following the traumatic scene on television, Granger introduces him to the various intellectuals of the camp. He asks Montag what he has to offer. He answers the Book of Ecclesiastes, but only his fuzzy memory of it. Granger is delighted and explains that each person remembers literature, a living record of history being passed down through generations. Granger is Plato’s Republic. The group waits for the war to start and quickly end, and maybe after they will be of some use to the rebuilding society.
Jets approach the city. Knowing destruction is imminent, Montag remembers Mildred. Granger says people leave a memorable fingerprint on the world that lives on. Montag cannot remember anything good Mildred would leave. Then in an instant, the city is flattened. Montag knows Faber would be en route to more destruction, and Mildred is dead. It is then he remembers where they met: Chicago. The power of the explosions knocks the group over.
The next morning, Montag and Granger watch bacon sizzle in the pan. Granger mentions the Phoenix, an ancient bird that burns and rises again from its ashes. The group head to the ashes of the city for resurrection, as Montag remembers pieces of the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Henry is awoken by the sound of guns the next morning. He stops by the garage to speak to the mechanics who are working on the ambulances and then goes to the hospital to see Catherine with Rinaldi. Rather than speak to Catherine, Rinaldi spends his time speaking to a nurse named Helen Ferguson and Henry speaks to Catherine.
Henry is immediately taken aback by Catherine’s beauty and finds it odd that she carries a stick that resembles a riding crop. Catherine tells Henry that it belonged to her fiancé who had been killed in war. When Catherine inquires, Henry tells her he has never loved. When the men are leaving the hospital, Rinaldi realizes that Catherine seems more interested in Henry than in him.
Henry goes to see Catherine again the following day but finds that she is unavailable until seven o’clock when her shift ends. Henry heads back to the trenches and looks at the progress being made on the roads that will soon serve as the means to make an offensive attack. After dinner, Henry heads back to see Catherine and finds her in the garden.
Henry and Catherine chat about Catherine’s job and quickly decide not to talk about the war. Henry makes a move to put his arm around Catherine, and, though she resists at first, she eventually allows it, though when Henry goes in for a kiss she slaps him across the face. Soon, Catherine does allow Henry to kiss her and she immediately begins crying and tells him that they will have an odd life together. When Henry returns to the barracks that night Rinaldi picks on him for his “glow”.
After two days, Henry returns to see Catherine again, and she asks him if he is in love with her; when he says that he is she tells him to call her by her first name. The couple strolls through the garden together and Catherine tells him that she loves him as well, and the two days without him were almost unbearable.
Henry thinks to himself that Catherine is probably slightly insane, but he kisses her anyway, fully aware that he does not actually love her. Henry feels as though he is getting himself involved a highly complex game. Catherine, as though she can read Henry’s mind tells him she is not crazy, and it seems she is playing the game, as well. When Henry kisses her again, she abruptly stops and tells him to leave for the night. Henry is confused, and when he returns home Rinaldi can tell, relieved that he did not get mixed up with Catherine.
Henry picks up a soldier on his way home from post the next day. He finds that the soldier has a hernia but has gotten rid of his thruss (a device to help a hernia) in the hopes of being taken off the front. He does not want his commanding officers to find him, because he knows they will be familiar with his trick so Henry instructs him to give himself a bump in the head so he has a legitimate reason to be in the hospital.
Henry thinks about the offensive that will begin in two days and wishes he were somewhere else, perhaps Milan having dinner and wine with Catherine. When he goes to visit Catherine that evening, drunk and chewing on coffee beans to sober up, Helens turns him away with the information that Catherine is ill and will not see him. Henry feels terribly lonely.
The following day Henry is informed of an attack that will be occurring that night. On the way to the front, Henry’s car passes the hospital, and he stops in to see Catherine. He informs Catherine that he will be otherwise involved that night, and she wishes him luck, giving him a St. Anthony medal for protection. Henry quickly leaves Catherine and heads back to the car. The car cavalry heads off toward Pavla, the site of the battle.
The atmosphere is ominous in Pavla as Henry spots the trenches filled with ammunition and sees the observation balloons from Austria hanging in the air. Henry and his men are put into a dugout and begin chatting with the other men about the possibility of ending the war, though some men think that it will go on forever if neither side stops fighting.
They grab some food from the wound-dressing station, and, as they are eating, the bombs begin to drop. Henry feels a blast, and suddenly he cannot breathe. The mortar round that blew up killed one of the men next to Henry and injured the other man and himself. Henry is carried away by two of the other drivers and taken to the wound-dressing station to get his nearly-destroyed leg taken care of.
Henry finds himself in the field hospital, and he is in extreme pain. Rinaldi comes to visit and tells Henry that he will be receiving an honor for heroism during battle though Henry insists that he was not heroic at all, he was just there. Rinaldi insists that Henry will be decorated, despite how he feels. Rinaldi gives Henry a nice bottle of cognac and leaves him alone, promising that he will soon send Catherine to visit him.
That evening the priest visits with Henry in the hospital, admitting that he misses seeing Henry in the mess hall. He brings Henry some English newspapers, netting to keep the mosquitos away, and a bottle of vermouth. As the men drink and chat they get on the subject of war and whether or not it is hopeless to wish for its end. The priest says it is not hopeless, but he has a hard time hoping sometimes.
The priest tells Henry that he dislikes being harassed by the other men for his faith, but he is proud of his relationship with God. Henry says he does not know if he believes, but the priest notices in Henry an ability to love deeply and tells him so. Henry is skeptical of his ability to give himself totally over to another person. The priest takes his leave for the night, and Henry soon drifts off to sleep.
Henry is being shipped to a hospital in Milan because the field hospital will need all of its beds for when the offensive begins. Before Henry is to be shipped off, he is visited by Rinaldi and another man from his company.
They get drunk and discuss the war, as President Wilson has declared war on Germany and Henry believes he will declare war on Austria soon as well, which is tremendously exciting for the Italians. Rinaldi tells Henry that Catherine will be transferred to the Milan hospital in which he will be recovering, much to Henry’s joy. On the train, the next day Henry drinks so much that he throws up all over the floor.
After a two day trip, Henry arrives in Milan and is unable to get a bed at first because the nurse on duty, Mrs. Walker says she needs a doctor’s orders to admit him. Henry asks the men who are clumsily carrying him and causing him pain to bring him into a room so he can sleep. The next morning he is woken by a young nurse named Miss Gage to take his temperature and Mrs. Walker comes into to change his bedding.
That afternoon Henry meets Miss Van Campen, the superintendent of the hospital and tells her he would like wine with his meals, which she refuses since it is not ordered by a doctor. Henry, obviously not getting wine from Miss Van Campen, sends a porter out to get him a few bottles, as well as some newspapers. That night, Miss Van Campen sends him eggnog spiked with sherry, which Henry believes to be a peace offering.
Miss Gage finds an empty bottle of Vermouth under Henry’s bed, and he thinks she may tell on him but instead she asks why she was not invited to drink with him. She tells Henry that Catherine has arrived at the hospital, and she is not too fond of her, but Henry thinks they will like one another just fine. Soon a barber and porter come to the room to give Henry a shave, per his request, and he wonders by the barber is so rude to him.
The porter tells him that the barber thought he was an Austrian and seriously considered slicing his throat, which the porter seemed to find amusing. Catherine comes to see Henry and he realizes as soon as he sees her that he truly is in love with her. Henry brings Catherine into his bed, and they have sex for the first time.
A small, frail doctor comes in the morning to see Henry and attempt to remove the shrapnel from his knee. The doctor tires of the mundane and precise task quickly and calls in a few doctors for a consultation. The doctors agree that Henry should not have an operation for six more months, an idea that sounds unbearable to Henry as he cannot possibly stay in bed that long.
Henry asks for a second opinion, and, within a couple hours, he is introduced to Dr. Valentini. Henry finds Dr. Valentini to be cool, confident, and cheerful as the men chat and have a drink together. Dr. Valentini tells Henry that he will operate on him in the morning.
The night before Henry’s operation Catherine stays with him. The two lie in bed together and stare out into the night. Henry fears that someone will discover them lying in bed together, but Catherine tells him that everyone else is asleep so no one will come in.
In the morning, Henry wishes he could have breakfast in the park, but Catherine tells him that he must get ready for surgery, despite his efforts to get her back into bed. She tells him that he will be groggy from medication that evening and to be careful that he does not tell anyone about their relationship, as the medication often makes patients talk too much.
They begin to discuss their relationship, and when Catherine asks Henry how many women he has been with he tells her she is the only one. Despite the fact that Catherine is sure he is lying, she is happy with his response to her question.
Henry falls ill after his operation, and while he is recovering three new patients are admitted. One of the guys blew up a fuse cap in his own face, and another guy has malaria, and another has both malaria and jaundice. Helen becomes Henry’s ally as she passes notes to Catherine for him when she is working.
Henry asks Helen if she wants to come to their wedding, but Helen does not think that Henry and Catherine will get married. She worries that Catherine is getting sick and tells Henry so. Henry talks to Miss Gage about Catherine taking a couple of days off of work to rest and she agrees to it. After three days off, Catherine comes in to see Henry, and they are ecstatic and passionate to be reunited.
Henry continues healing and learns to use crutches to help him walk by summertime. He and Catherine spend a lot of time together out and about in Milan and spend their nights together. They discuss the topic of marriage though both of them are opposed to it for the time being. Catherine feels that a married woman would not be able to stay in the military hospital so she is content with where their relationship is for now. She tells Henry that she is fully committed to him regardless of marriage, sure that while many terrible things will probably happen to them, infidelity will not.
Henry spends a lot of his time wandering around Milan and makes friends with some locals, mainly an older couple called the Meyerses. Henry sees the Meyerses one day while walking the streets, and after parting ways, he buys some chocolates for Catherine. He heads into a bar where he runs into a guy from San Francisco who is also serving in the Italian army.
The man, Ettore Moretti, has many war medals and Henry considers him a real hero but finds him quite bland. He goes back to the hospital and tells Catherine he ran into Moretti, whom Catherine is not fond of because she does not consider him a gentleman. Henry and Catherine talk for hours though when it starts to rain, Catherine cries. She tells Henry that rain is “hard on loving”.
Henry and Catherine take the Myers’ tips to the races and bring with them Helen Ferguson, or “Fergie” as Henry calls her, and one of the other guys from the hospital. Though the Myers’ do well in the races, they are reluctant to share all of their secrets.
The race that is going on that day is all horses who have never won big but Catherine spots something she thinks is suspicious. She finds a horse that looks as though it has an unnatural purple-hue to it as though its fur has been dyed to conceal its identity, and perhaps it is a champion.
They bet on the horse, but, unfortunately, do not make very much money off the race. Catherine soon grew uncomfortable being in the crowd so she and Henry went off by themselves. They both enjoy being alone together, claiming that being alone together rather than in a crowd makes them feel less lonely somehow.
As September comes around, the Allies are losing the war, and Henry is informed that if things keep up the way they are the Allies will lose the war within the next year. Henry has nearly healed from his surgery and is expected to make a return to the front after three weeks of leave. He and Catherine are planning to take a trip somewhere together, and as they are planning Catherine tells Henry that she is three months pregnant with their child. Worried that Henry will want to leave Catherine tells him that she will not cause any trouble for him but Henry surprises her by saying he loves her and is happy they are having a child. Henry tells Catherine that “a coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one” and they try to recall who made that sentiment but cannot remember. Catherine muses that the intelligent, brave men probably die thousands of deaths but are smart enough to not say anything.
It starts to rain again and just when Henry is about to take his leave he develops jaundice. Miss Van Campen decides that Henry’s jaundice has been caused by his excessive drinking, as she has found all of the empty liquor bottles that Henry has been stashing under his bed. Miss Van Campen thinks that Henry has made himself sick on purpose so that he does not have to return to battle and so she decides to punish him by putting in a petition to take away his leave, and so it is.
Henry begins packing his things and saying his goodbyes as he is heading to the front. As he is walking down the street, he sees Catherine in a cafe and signals for her to join him. Henry remarks that the couple they pass embracing outside a cathedral is like them, but Catherine disagrees as she thinks there is no one like them. He stops to buy a new gun, and he and Catherine decide to get a hotel room so they can be alone before he leaves again.
Catherine feels like a cheap prostitute, but they have no other choice for the time being. Henry worries about how Catherine will deal with having the baby while he is gone, but she assures him she will be fine and have a home set up for him when he returns.
A carriage picks up Henry and Catherine and takes them to the train station where they will part ways. When they arrive Henry gets out to catch his train and sends Catherine in the carriage back to the hospital. Henry tells Catherine to be careful to take care of herself and the baby, whom he refers to as “little Catherine”. Henry has caused a stir on the train because he has asked someone to save a seat for him while he says his goodbyes and the train is terribly crowded. Henry decides to offer his seat to the officer who has been complaining and spends the night on the floor instead.
When Henry returns to the front in Gorizia, he speaks with the lead major about the status of the war, and the possibility of it coming to an end. The major is pleased about Henry’s decorations but tells him that had he been sent on leave he would likely not have returned.
Henry goes off in search of Rinaldi whom he has not seen in quite some time. Rinaldi checks out Henry’s knee and cannot believe he was sent back to the battle after his surgery. He asks Henry if he is in love with Catherine, if they are married, and whether she is any good in bed, a question which Henry deems inappropriate as it is a private matter.
The men toast to Catherine and head to dinner where Rinaldi makes fun of the priest for old time’s sake, despite the fact that his audience is considerable smaller than it was just a few months before.
When the men are done with dinner, Henry stays and has a talk with the priest. They discuss the ending of the war, which the priest thinks will happen soon though he is not sure why. He thinks that the war has made the men more mild and gentle as that tends to happen. He cites Jesus Christ as an example as his struggles made him a gentler man. Henry no longer cares about victory or even believes in it because even if they win they have lost too many people to make the victory a happy one. The priest asks what Henry does believe in these days, and Henry replies “sleep”.
The next day Henry goes to Bainsizza where the fighting is occurring and learns from another soldier named Gino about the weaponry of the Austrians. He says that if the Austrians are to attack then the Italians will essentially be helpless. Henry feels like there is no meaning to words like “sacred” or “glorious” anymore and the only words that have meaning are names and numbers.
A bombardment occurs that night, and the Italians learn that the Germans are included in the enemy, which scares them because they have never had to deal with the Germans before. They find out that the Italian line has been broken, and everyone is being evacuated. Henry finds out that Rinaldi has gone to the hospital, and he and some of the other drivers – Bonello, Piani, and Aymo – stop to rest before continuing on their way.
A motorcade of soldiers exits the town together forming a seemingly endless line. They take turns sleeping and driving and shortly after Henry wakens he finds that the line has stopped moving.
Henry checks on the other men, finds that they are okay, and goes back to Piani’s truck where he falls asleep once again. Henry has dreams of Catherine and even speaks to her in his sleep. More people join the retreat that night, mostly peasants, and the next morning Henry and his men decide to leave the retreat and take another route themselves. They stop at a farmhouse for breakfast before continuing on their journey.
While on their retreat, the car driven by Aymo gets stuck due to the soft ground, and Henry knows the only way to ensure it does not happen again is to cut brush to lie over the ground and drive across. The other men do not want to help because they feel if they stop for any reason the enemy may catch up to them. Henry gets frustrated with the men for not wanting to help and shoots one of them. Bonello takes Henry’s gun from him and shoots the man again, killing him.
The men use everything they can find to keep the car out of the mud, but nothing seems to be working. They decide to leave the car there and continue on with the other cars, though they do not get very far before they are stuck again. Two girls that had been riding with Aymo are given money, and sent to a nearby village to hopefully take them out of danger, and the men are forced to retreat on foot as they cannot move their vehicles.
The men see the Germans coming and try to avoid them by taking another road and heading toward an embankment. The men are shot at the Aymo is killed immediately. They realize they have been shot at by the rear guard and Aymo has been killed by his own people out of fear. They realize they are in more danger from their own people than the Germans and find a farmhouse to hide out in until dark.
Piani and Bonello go to look for food, but Piani returns alone as Bonello has gone looking for the enemy with the hopes of being taken in because he feels that is his best chance of escaping. The next day they hope to rejoin the Italians and find a bunch of officers being interrogated to find out who is responsible for the rogue Italian soldiers who turned on their own people. Henry is seized and notices another officer being shot near him.
Henry takes the opportunity to duck away from his captors and jumps in the water to escape. He keeps swimming away until the sounds of the gunfire fade into the distance.
When Henry thinks that he is far enough away he gets out of the water, careful to remove the stars on his uniform that identify him as an officer. Henry counts the money that he has on him and proceeds to walk across the Venetian Plane toward the closest military train station, which he arrives at that night.
A young soldier sees Henry, and Henry is worried that his cover is blown, but the soldier allows him on the train as he assumes that Henry belongs there. Henry hides under a tarp of canvas in the gun car so he will not be found, cutting his head in the process. He reminds himself to pick the dried blood off his head before he exits the train because he does not want to draw attention to himself.
As Henry rides under the tarp, he thinks about how strong his knee has been, surprised that the surgery was so effective. He thinks about Catherine though he tries not to because he feels he may go crazy just thinking about her when he does not know if or when he will see her again.
Henry feels sure that there is no place in the war for him anymore because his army and his friends are no longer there. Physical needs overcome Henry’s thoughts as he realizes that he needs to eat, drink, sleep, and be with Catherine. All Henry wants now is to find Catherine and take her to a place where they can be safe and happy together.
Henry lets himself off the train in Milan and goes out in search of Catherine. He stops in a wine shop for coffee and ends up having a glass of wine with the owner of the shop. The owner asks Henry if he can help him with anything but Henry says he is fine. He heads to the hospital to find Catherine but finds that she has left for Stresa.
Henry finds one of the opera musicians, Ralph Simmons, he had made friends with before he left and asks the man how he can go about getting to Switzerland to be free and meet with Catherine. Simmons gives Henry some civilian clothing and sends him on his way, wishing him good luck with everything.
Henry feels strange on the train to Stresa because as a young man he is expected to be a soldier, though he is obviously not according to the public as he is wearing civilian clothing. When he arrives in Stresa, he checks in to a hotel and tells them that he is expecting his wife to be joining him. He hears that two English nurses are at a small hotel nearby, and Henry knows that must be Catherine. When he arrives, Catherine and Helen are having lunch and Catherine is delighted to see him though Helen hates him for what he has made of Catherine’s life. Henry enjoys the night he spends with Catherine as it is true bliss for him.
The next morning Catherine realizes just how horrible Henry’s experience must have been because he does not want to read the paper or anything about the war. He tells Catherine that he will share his experiences with her someday when he fully wraps his head around it. He feels as though he has committed a crime by leaving, but Catherine assures him that he is no criminal, and she cannot wait until they take off for Switzerland together.
The next morning Catherine goes off to see Helen and Henry goes fishing with Emilio, the bartender from his hotel whom he becomes fast friends with. Emilio has told Henry that any time he wants to use his boat he can. Henry and Catherine dine with Helen for lunch and run into a man named Count Greffi whom Henry knows from an earlier trip to Stresa, who is staying with his niece at the same hotel. Henry and Count Greffi spend some time together that evening and play some pool with another. The Count tells Henry his misconceptions about religion, and they discuss the war, and whether it will end in a victory for Italy.
Henry is woken by Emilio that night who tells him he has heard that the military police have a plan to take Henry in when the morning comes. Emilio offers Henry and Catherine his boat, as he feels they should leave immediately and row themselves to Switzerland where they can be safe.
Henry immediately wakes Catherine, so they can pack their things and leave. Emilio provides Henry and Catherine with the supplies they will need for their trip – a boat, sandwiches, and a bottle of brandy. Henry pays Emilio what he can for the supplies, and they make an agreement for Henry to send back 500 francs as payment for the boat when they get established.
Henry rows for the most of the night though it hurts his hands quite a bit due to the choppy water conditions from the storm. Catherine rows for a short time but Henry will not allow her to row for long. When they finally arrive in Switzerland in the morning, they are relieved and settle in to have some breakfast.
They are soon taken in by the Swiss guards who hold them until they can get temporary visas. Henry and Catherine are soon released, to their relief, and find themselves a hotel to stay in where they immediately go to sleep after their long and tiring journey.
Henry and Catherine set up a home in the town of Montreux and make friends with the couple who live downstairs from them, the Guttingens. Henry and Catherine immensely enjoy their life together in their cozy mountainside home and spend a lot of time in town together. One day they go to town so Catherine can have her hair done and they stop at a bar to have a beer.
Catherine is sure that drinking beer will keep the baby small in size because she is worried that she will have a hard time giving birth due to her narrow hips. Henry and Catherine approach the idea of marriage again, and Catherine feels it will be only right for them to wed to make their baby legitimate.
Catherine cannot wait to be American when they are married and see famous American landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Niagara Falls. Around Christmas time Catherine notices that Henry seems to be growing restless, and she suggests he change something about his appearance, such as grow a beard, to calm himself. They try to fall asleep at the same together, but Henry cannot sleep and he instead he lies awake and stares at Catherine because his mind will not rest.
During January, Henry’s beard grows to an impressive fullness. They continue taking walks together in town and enjoy the isolation of being together in a place where no one knows them. They worry that after the baby arrives they will no longer be able to enjoy the solitude that they hold so dearly.
Catherine tells Henry that after the baby comes and she loses the weight she will cut her hair shorter, and make herself attractive again so Henry will fall in love with her all over again. Henry tells Catherine that he loves her plenty already so that will be unnecessary.
Henry and Catherine decide to move to a town called Lausanne in March because the baby is about to come and they want to be closer to the hospital pending the baby’s arrival. Rather than find a place to call home right away they spend three weeks in a hotel. Catherine spends her days finding baby clothes and Henry spends a lot of his time working out at the gym. They try to spend as much of their time together as possible because they feel that the baby is remarkably close to making its arrival.
Catherine goes into labor around three o’clock in the morning one day and is rushed to the hospital where she is given a room and a gown. She tells Henry to go to breakfast because she feels he has time and so he does, though upon returning he finds that Catherine has been taken to the delivery room. Catherine spends most of the day inhaling anesthetic gas to help her through the pain of a difficult labor that is not making much progress.
The doctor decides Catherine needs to have a cesarean section and takes her away on a stretcher. The doctor comes out soon, fussing over the baby boy, but Henry rushes past him to see Catherine. Catherine asks about the baby, and Henry says he is fine, but the nurse, confused by this statement, pulls Henry aside and tells him that the baby had been strangled by the umbilical cord while it was still in the womb.
After dinner, Henry learns that Catherine is bleeding heavily and when he goes into see her she tells him she is dying. She asks Henry to promise her that he will never say the same things to other girls that he has said to her and Henry stays by her side in her last moments. After Catherine dies Henry tries to say his goodbyes with her but he cannot and he just leaves the hospital and walks through the rain alone, back to the hotel.
Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.
Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.
The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.
Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.
Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.
Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.
Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.
Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.
Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.
Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.
Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.
Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.
Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.
Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.