FireIn Ray Bradbury s futuristic novel, Fahrenheit 451, it is a crime to own or read books. The society in this novel has conformed due to lack of exposure to written material. For years Guy Montag has been paid to burn all books, but a chain of events leads him to question his own lifestyle. He is soon running from the law because he is unwilling to obey laws with which he no longer agrees. Quite a few of these events in the novel are affected by fire. Fire is an unspoken character in Fahrenheit 451. The reader can see this through the use of fire as a symbol, through the characters relationship with fire, and through fire s purpose in the novel. The main purpose fire has in the novel is to dispose of all literature. Montag, Beatty and the rest of the firemen were hired to do this. Fire is an unspoken character here because it has ruined so many people s lives and the place that they live. The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning, along with the houses in which they were hidden ( F. 451 Back Cover). Another way is that people worshiped it; like they would a person. Without fire playing this role the book would have been meaningless. Fire is the most used and the most important symbol in Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury s symbolic fire gives unity as well as stimulating depth (Watt 40). The two most prominent symbols that relate to fire are the salamander and the Phoenix. In mythology the salamander endures flames without burning. It is also the name of Part 1: The Heath and the Salamander. It was also on the uniform of the firemen, and on their firehouse. The Phoenix is used just as much as the salamander. In mythical times it was a bird that after five hundred years would burn. Then from the ashes a worm would come out and it would be the next Phoenix. It is also an insignia of the firemen and was referred to often in the novel. Other symbols in the book are the names of Part 1 and Part 3. The Hearth and the Salamander and Burning Bright. Montag (as in Guy Montag) is a company that manufactures furnaces. Also the colors in the book: black and burnt. The firemen s helmets, their eyebrows, and their hair are all black. The symbol of fire and all it relates to was just as important as most of the characters.
Throughout the novel some characters had a relationship with fire. Beatty, of course, is one of them. He has been the fire chief for quite some time. He lives for fire and his job. He even dies by fire as Montag kills him with a flamethrower. Montag is another character that had a bond with fire. His father and grandfather were both firemen, and it was expected for Montag to do the same. All of his life he has loved his job. It was a pleasure to burn (Bradbury 3) shows exactly how Montag felt about fire. These two characters both had good relationships with fire. Fire is an unspoken character showed through all three of these ways. Beatty and Montag s relationship with fire; the symbols that represent fire; and fire s main purpose in the book all showed examples of these. Ray Bradbury did an excellent job of incorporating fire in the novel.Matt FlynnOctober 5, 2000