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The symbolism of fire in Fahrenheit 451
Transcript of The symbolism of fire in Fahrenheit 451
One meaning of fire in Fahrenheit 451 is control and censorship, because the firemen started fires as a means of control over the citizens.
For Captain Beatty, fire is a means of censorship and control.
He uses it to intimidate the citizens of Fahrenheit 451, as well as a means of garbage disposal.
The old woman is a good example of Beatty's idea of fire.
When she isn't intimidated by him, he burns her house to the ground, with her still inside it, disposing of her like trash because she became too burdensome.
She also shows Montag the dark side of his job and makes him question whether the burning is a good thing.
Granger sees fire as a source of warmth and as a life-giver. To him it is constructive, giving life through food and warmth. It allows for a new world to emerge, relating his concept of fire to the symbolism of the phoenix in Fahrenheit 451. The phoenix uses fire as a means to regenerate, or start anew.
The words in the fire, and the pictures relate to the dual meanings of fire in Fahrenheit 451
The other meaning of fire in Fahrenheit 451 is of giving life and warmth, and enabling new life to start among the ashes of the war.
Fire represents purification for Montag, and allows everyone to be the same. He believes it to be an equalizer, making all men similar.
Fire is an archetypal symbol with two distinct ideas represented in Fahrenheit 451.
"Its real beauty is that it destroys responsabilities and consequences. A problem gets too burdensome, then into the furnace with it...clean, quick, sure; nothing to rot later."(109)
"The important thing for you to remember, Montag, is we're the Happiness Boys... you and I and the others. We stand against the small tide of those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought. We have our fingers in the dike. Hold steady. Don't let the torrent of melancholy and drear philosophy drown our world." (62)
"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." (51)
Montag says this after he sees the old woman burn to death. This is the beginning of his doubts about his job.
"Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." (51)
This quote shows the old woman's use of fire, in this case a candle, to mean hope. She hopes that she will become a beacon for others to see the wrongness of the book burnings.