Fahrenheit 451 In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Montag's escape through the river svmbolizes his salvation, along with several other things. . In several other instances besides the river, water is used to contrast fire and to thus show the difference between good and evil. Also, the forest through which the travels river symbolizes the innocence of mankind before civilization. This is merely a scaratch on the surface of this novel's seemingly endless symbolism. Fahrenheit tells the story of a fireman named Montag whose job is to set fire to books in order to maintain society's ignorance.
When Montag kills Beatty, the Fire Chief, he decides to run from the world that he has lived his whole life in. His newfound friend Faber, another person on the outskirts of society, tells him that he will be safe if he makes it to the river. This is an illustration of literal salvation. Rivers often represent "divine emmissaries, life, and the enterance into the afterlife" (Jobes 1341). "After a long time of floating... [Montag] knew he must never burn again" (Bradbury 141). This shows that the river changes Montag or is at least the cocoon in which he stays while he undergoes a metamorphisis into what is basically a different person. Also, it is interesting that, in the old South as well as in Biblical times, the baptisms of new Christians often would take place in the nearest river or creek.
Montag's journey in the river seems to be a baptism of sorts, as it frees him from the shackles and chains of his former life.
The river, however, is only the vessel in which Montag travels to the heart of the forest. The forest is the "abode of man in his state of innocence, and a Hebrew symbol for kingdom" (Jobes 594). In the novel, the forest and the river are likened to one another at times, such as when Montag describes the forest floor as "a dry river smelling of hot cloves and warm dust" (Bradbury 144). When Montag several men who, like him, are on the outside of...
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