Professor Tricia Weldon
ENGL 1 A
11 December 2009
Fahrenheit 451 written by Ray Bradbury in the early 1950's, spoke out against the future, and spoke out against censorship. The novel takes the reader to a time where books and thinking are outlawed. Books and ideas are burned. Books are burned physically and ideas are burned from the mind. The author is avery symbolic writer. Throughout the novel he makes the book moving and powerful by using symbolism to reinforce the mythological ideas of death and renewal: - the theme is repeated in Fahrenheit 451 with the salamander; the symbol of a Phoenix; and main protagonist, Guy Montag.
Salamander: “A mythical creature, a lizard, capable of living or withstanding fire without being burned up”(“salamander” 1144). It is ironic the firemen wear the Salamander on their uniforms because they believe they can escape the fire and survive, much like a salamander does Expressed in the book the salamander is symbolic of Guy Montag, who is being described as a salamander because his job is working with fire and not getting burned. “It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten,to see things blackened and change. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world” (Bradbury 3). Montag also enjoys the smell of “Kerosene… is nothing but perfume for me” (Bradbury 6). In the book Bradbury uses Montag’s destruction that comes from the all mighty flame to show death and renewal, just like the salamander keeping the soul alive.As Bhaktivedanta Prahupada mentions “This individual soul is unbreakable, and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, all-pervading, immovable and eternally the same.” Montag starts rethinking why burning books is burning knowledge. He is thinking about the salamander and the soul’s immortality and the body’s temporality.
Montag, after reaching the realizationthat fire and destruction have indeed destroyed his old self, Guy goes toward a rebirth much like the Phoenix. “In the Egyptian Mythology, Phoenix is a bird that consumed itself by fire, and rose renewed from his ashes” (Cooper 129). Montag rise from his ashes when he sees the old woman burning to ashes around her books “The woman knelt among the books…reading the gilt titles with her fingerswhile her eyes accused Montag. ‘You can’t ever have my books,’ she said….‘I want to stay here’… ‘The fume of kerosene bloomed up about her. Montag felt the hidden book pound like a heart against his chest’”(Bradbury 38-39). Its must be something in books- you don’t die for nothing- Montag is thinking about death and renewal. Phoenix: like a myth never dies…it is a symbol of eternity, resurrection andthe attribute of fire and hope” (Rowland 132). With Montag ’s hope about the books and knowledge, he decides to leave his past and change his life. So he burns his home; he burns his marital status quo; he burns Captain Beatty; and he burns the Hound (who represents fear). In the eyes of the reader “books were one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we mightforget…the magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the parches of the universe together into one garment for us”(Bradbury 83). Montag now sees himself alive just like a Phoenix and a book. “This book has pores… with the truthfully recorded details of human lives... (83). The only people who could understand are the ones who have faith and believe that knowledge travels within a book. Guy's lifeis a cycle of getting burnt, then coming alive once again. Finally the Phoenix survives and flies away (where Montag goes to the "escapee" camp).
Guy Montag courageously leaves the city escaping through the water crossing the river. The water, the river, is the opposing force to fire. “In the Rig Veda hymns, the water, which bring life, strength and cleansing on both spiritual and the...