PART ONE DISCUSSION
I. SYMBOLISM & THEMES
i. Overview — Part I: “The Hearth and the Salamander"
Part One of Fahrenheit 451 is titled “The Hearth and the Salamander”, referring to the floor of a home’s fireplace – the foundation – and the lizard-like amphibian with a fantastical history. These are two very symbolic things to our protagonist, Guy Montag. A career fireman in a futuristic world where books are forbidden and any sign of uniqueness is a sign of illness. Part one seeks to acclimate us to Montag’s disenchanted reality: his job, his house, his wife—and now—their new neighbor, Clarisse. Clarisse is an unorthodox, curious girl who Bradbury often describes her using the moon and various other flora and fauna to symbolize the young catalyst. Ray Bradbury’s uses a great deal symbolism all throughout 451 and a certain level of understanding will not only allow you to better understand the novel, but it will also allow you to enjoy Fahrenheit 451 in a way that you may not have before. When it comes to Ray Bradbury, what you read is not always what he meant.
ii. Content Analysis
a The Hearth — a symbol of the home and center of a family. Part one serves as an exposition to the world in which Montag lives and Bradbury has created. It more closely focuses on the home and life he shares with his wife, Mildred. This symbolism is ironic because the hearth is seen as warm and welcoming – a place for the family to gather, eat and bond. Montag’s house is not described as such; Bradbury even compares it to a tomb at one point (an obvious point of foreshadowing) right before Montag enters the bedroom he shares with Mildred to find that she has attempted to take her own life. The contrast depicted between Montag’s reality and the symbol of the hearth not only sets the tone of the novel early on, it also gives the reader a crash-course introduction to Guy Montag and the world in which he calls home. b The Salamander — in ancient mythology and...
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