Fahrenheit 451: the Development of Fire as a Symbol

Topics: Fahrenheit 451, Dystopia, Ray Bradbury Pages: 2 (634 words) Published: November 15, 2010
Fahrenheit 451: The Development of Fire As a Symbol
By Kaitlin Cullen-Verhauz
In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the presence of fire has obvious significance. What is important to look at, however, is how it’s meaning evolves throughout the book. As Guy Montag’s views change on society and the world around him, so does the connotation of fire. First, the fire represents power, and the satisfaction that comes with it. Then, as Montag is exposed to more radical thinking, the meaning evolves into violence and destruction. By the end of the novel, the image of fire symbolizes hope, as he works with Faber, and the book people to restore society. At the beginning of the book, fire takes on the role of power and excitement for Montag. He thoroughly enjoys his work of burning books, and the sight of pages going up into flames gives him a satisfying rush of adrenaline. “It was a pleasure to burn…the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history.” (p. 1). This quote is the very first impression the reader is given of Guy Montag, and it exemplifies a few aspects of his mindset. The thrill of watching the flames consume the home he is burning, and the ignorance of what exactly is being burned, to name a few. There is also a certain pride associated with fire. “’It’s fine work. Monday burn Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn ‘em to ashes, then burn the ashes.’” (p. 8). Montag is so immersed in the rules and standards of society, that it does not even occur to him to question it. Later on, the flaws of the world around him become clearer to Montag. The friendship that he forms with Clarisse causes him to look critically at his surroundings, and be more honest with himself. As Montag develops intellectually, the image of fire takes on a new meaning. What was once an inspiring symbol of dominance, now...
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