Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

1068 Words4 Pages
Fire is a basic human necessity-capable of both causing devastation and sustaining life. With its various uses, fire’s symbolic meaning is ambiguous: to some, fire symbolizes destruction and death, yet to others it can symbolize passion, knowledge and comfort. Ray Bradbury successfully portrays the ambiguity of fire’s symbolism in Fahrenheit 451, as Montag’s mental transformation and relationship to society changes his understanding of fire; believing first that fire is simply a destructive force, to slowly understanding the comforting and unifying nature of fire.
Bradbury first portrays fire as a destructive force, starting his novel with Montag burning books. With the brainwashed mindset of his society, “it was [Montag’s] pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed” (Bradbury 3). While the society sees burning as a pleasure, the fire depicted here embodies the elimination of knowledge and individualism as firemen “[stamp] out books and the freedom of thought that books represent” (“Fahrenheit 451”). In his description of the burning process, Bradbury uses words such as “venomous” and “death” to show the true nature of Montag’s profession, and while it brought him joy, his actions were truly destructive. Burning is also the most irreversible method of destruction, causing the complete obliteration of whatever is burned. In this way, the use of fire to get rid of books shows the intense desire of this society to

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