story of a time where books and independent thinking are outlawed. In a time so unenlightened, where those who want to better themselves by thinking, are outlawed and killed. Books and ideas are destroyed, books are incinerated, where as ideas thinking becomes a danger to society and is not tolerated. Bradbury uses literary devices, such as symbolism, in which he portrays thethoughts of man. The book recalls the effects of the Nazi’s, and their destruction of literature and text, in a new day and age. Symbolism is a key element to understanding the book and its message of anti-censorship and common ignorance.
The Hearth and the Salamander, the title of part one. This example of symbolism suggests two things having to do with fire, the hearth, a center of emotion and heat. Whereas a salamander will embrace heat and fire to gain warmth. The salamander represents the main character of Guy Montag.
Montag’s occupation as a fireman is to burn books and text to erase their existence and impact on thinking. The symbol of a Phoenix is used throughout the novel. The Phoenix was a mythical bird of ancient Arabian legend. The Phoenix symbolizes the rebirth after destruction by fire. Firemen wear a crest of the Phoenix on their uniforms. Montag, after realizing the truth of his job, opens his eyes and sees that fire and destruction has indeed destroyed his newly gained ideals, he wishes to be reborn. With his new ideas of knowledge, he goes to Faber with ideas to save the books, and he hides books in his house.
Montag even goes as far as stealing books from houses that he is supposed to be destroying. Phoenix is reborn only to get burnt and destroyed, again. Like the Phoenix, Guy’s life is a cycle of getting burnt and rebirth, until one time the awayMontag escapes and where Montag kills Capt. Beatty by igniting him with the liquid fire. Fire, another example of symbolism, Fire has a dual image in the book, the obvious one, destruction, and a symbol of warmth. For Montag, fire has been good to serve the purpose of being a fireman.
Fire is one of the only things Montag knows, and the only thing he knows as a solution is to burn the problem. Capt. Beatty has taught Guy that fire is the solution to everything, when in reality, fire destroyed books, homes, people, Capt.
Beatty, Montag’s house, and in the end, it destroyed the city from which Montag barely escaped. However, fire also symbolizes something else, warmth and hope. It is not until the very end that Guy realizes that fire does not have to be destructive, it is a tool which can have many uses.
After meeting the other escapees, he is able to associate fire with good. Sitting around a campfire while sharing ideas and reading helped open Montag eyes. The campfire is no longer destruction, it is providing warmth for them. They are memorizing the books, and passing them along by word of mouth, and then they are placing the books in the campfire.Symbolism added to the impact this book had.
The symbols were usually descriptive of something or somebody, such as the Phoenix, and the salamander. Destruction and the use of fire came to be a symbol of both good and bad. Perhaps this novel, written in the early 1950’s, spoke out against the recent acts of the Nazis in WWII, to warn the future of what man is capable of..
There was a silly damn bird called a Phoenix back before Christ, every few hundred years he built a pyre and burnt himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself, up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we’re doing the same thing, over and over, but we’ve got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did.
We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand years and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, some day we’ll stop making goddamn funeral pyres and jumping in the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember every generation. Page 163.