Fahrenheit 451: Symbolism

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“Are you happy?” (pg 10) This quote is from the first conversation Clarisse and Montag have. This is what wakes Montag up because it makes him question his life for the first time ever. Clarisse is a symbol of consciousness. While everyone else lives to be happy and do not question anything or think about anything she thinks about and truly sees the world around her. “‘You weren't there, you didn't see,’ he said. ‘There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't stay for nothing.’” (pg 51) In this quote Guy is talking to Mildred about the woman that burned along with her books. Books symbolize intelligence and enlightenment. The firemen burn books and destroy knowledge. This is when Guy realizes that there is something important in books. “We’re going to go build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.” (pg 164) Mirrors are a symbol of self understandance. Montag previously called Clarisse a mirror because she is the only one who truly understands herself and the world around them. Clarisse questions if Montag is truly happy and that shows that she understands herself enough to know if she is happy but was Montag. “‘fire!’...The fire proof plastic sheath on everything was cut wide and the house began to shudder with flame.” (pg 116-117) This quote symbolizes Montag destroying his connection with the rest of society. Fire is an interesting symbol in Fahrenheit 451 because it symbolizes two different things. Through the firemen, who burn books and wear the number "451" on their helmets, fire symbolizes destruction. Yet at the same time, Clarisse reminds Montag of candle-light, and so fire, when controlled, symbolizes the flickering of self-awareness and knowledge. The fire symbol ties up with the phoenix. After the city is reduced to ashes by the bombers, Granger makes a direct comparison between human beings...
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