Fahrenheit 451 Symbol Essay Example

Symbols In Fahrenheit 451, By Ray Bradbury

Since no one can definitely “know” what the future offers, the future represents the beauty of hope. Several writers explore the future through science fiction. One of the most distinguished and prolific writers of science fiction is Ray Bradbury. Although the setting of his famous novel, Fahrenheit 451, is in some future time, the society shown in this setting seems sadly stark, almost hopeless. In a world pervaded with mindless, hedonistic, and destructive individuals, intellect, morality, and creativity have all but vanished. However, three important symbols in this cautionary tale reinforce the inextinguishable, fiery power of knowledge. Three crucial symbols in the novel are the sieve, the hound, and fire.
Early in his life, Guy Montag, the protagonist of the novel flashes back to a painful memory of a childhood challenge with a sieve. As a child, Montag had accepted the challenge from a cousin to try to fill a sieve with sand for a prize of a dime. Too young to realize the futility of this task, as a hopeful child, he toiled for hours in the sun until he cried in despairing defeat. The childish memories of defeat are triggered by Montag’s frustrating adult experiences with reading. As the commercials blared on the public transportation rail, Montag tried to interpret, collect, and grasp the words he read from the Bible, and as he read, “…the silly thought came to him, if you read fast and read all, maybe some of the sand will stay in the sieve. But he read and the words fell through…” (78). In this early reading effort, each word, phrase, or sentence slipped from his mind in much the same way the sands of his childhood had slipped through the sieve. This allegorical flashback demonstrates both the frustration and determination of Montag.
Another important symbol in the novel is the mechanical hound. Considered by the firemen to be a perfect replacement for the traditional canine hound, which locate and rescue any trapped victims, the new mechanical hound is the familiar “pet” in the firehouse. The familiar Dalmatian breed of dog, once associated with modern firemen, has been replaced in the future by a cold, cyber creäture, a mechanical hound, used to track, locate, and kill using its “…sensitive capillary hairs in the nylon-brushed nostrils…” (24). Just as the purpose of firemen has changed, so has the purpose of their dogs. These mechanical hounds are never programmed to rescue, only to kill. Frequently used in sporting combat to attack rats or cats, the mechanical hounds provide a recreational entertainment for gambling firemen. Even though Monatg’s relationship with the mechanical hound has changed (since he no longer permits himself to bet on the hound), he attempts to affectionately touch the muzzle of the unsleeping sleepy dog at the...

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Fahrenheit 451 - Symbolism Essay examples

1350 Words6 Pages

Symbolism in Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury, perhaps one of the best-known science fiction, wrote the amazing novel Fahrenheit 451. The novel is about Guy Montag, a ‘fireman’ who produces fires instead of eliminating them in order to burn books (Watt 2). One night while he is walking home from work he meets a young girl who stirs up his thoughts and curiosities like no one has before. She tells him of a world where fireman put out fires instead of starting them and where people read books and think for themselves (Allen 1).

At a bookhouse, a woman chooses to burn and die with her books and afterwards Montag begins to believe that there is something truly amazing in books, something so amazing that a woman would kill herself for (Allen…show more content…

In an interesting thought Montag comes upon an idea about burning that states "the sun burnt every day. It burnt time…So if he burnt things with the firemen and the sun burnt Time, that meant that everything burnt! One of them had to stop burning" (141).

Secondly, Fire is a greatly important element of symbolism in Fahrenheit 451. Fire consumes minds, spirits, men, ideas, and books (McNelly 3). Fire’s importance is put at the beginning of the book when a clear picture of firemen is first seen and the narrator says, "With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black" (3). Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which books burn and is symbolically written on the firemen’s helmets, tanks, and in the firestation. Faber represents the "quiet, nourishing flame" of the imaginative spirit while in contrast, Beatty symbolizes the destroying function of fire (Watt 2). Fire, Montag’s reality and world, refines and purifies his mind and also gives unity and depth to the story (McNelly 3). Montag interprets his experiences in terms of fire (Watt 2). In Montag’s society the fireman’s torch has become a flame of reason (Slusser 63). Scientists also consider fire a

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