Destruction and Renewal
Fire is at the core of all life. It provides warmth, power, the ability to cook and preserve food, and even through it’s destructiveness, it creates new life as in forest fires. However, at the hands of people who are bent on destruction, fire becomes a powerful weapon. To some people fire symbolizes destruction or renewal, but depending on how you look at it fire can symbolize both. In Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, fire is both a symbol of destruction and renewal. Even as Montag changes his understanding of fire so does the symbolism that represents it.
Montag’s perspective of fire changes dramatically throughout the book. In the beginning of the book Montag enjoys burning. He describes the kerosene as a sort of perfume. He sees fire as destructive, but believes that fire is also good and a solution to society’s problems; which are books. This is shown in the first few sentences of the novel. “It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.” (pg.3) This was Montag’s perspective on life before he met Clarisse. When Montag met Clarisse his perspective on life, his world, and fire began to change. Montag began to wonder about fire and the importance of burning books. This happened when Clarisse said, “Strange. I heard once that a long time ago houses used to burn by accident and they needed fireman to stop the flames.” (pg.8) This made Montag truly begin to wonder and question Beatty’s and his own motives for burning books as well as the homes of those who own them. He wondered what fire used to be used for if people prevented fires in the past. Not only did he wonder this he also wonder why someone would risk there lives for books. Montag’s perspective on fire continued to change when he encounters the old woman who burned herself with her books in her own house. He become disgusted with burning and even vomited at the smell of kerosene. This is also when Montag...
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