Discuss symbolism in the novel. • phoenix o Granger compares mankind to a phoenix that burns itself up and then rises out of its ashes over and over again. Man’s advantage is his ability to recognize when he has made a mistake, so that eventually he will learn not to make that mistake anymore. Remembering the mistakes of the past is the task Granger and his group have set for themselves. They believe that individuals are not as important as the collective mass of culture and history. The symbol of the phoenix’s rebirth refers not only to the cyclical nature of history and the collective rebirth of humankind but also to Montag’s spiritual resurrection. o The city—like the Phoenix—it is destroyed & then reborn. o Figuratively, Montag is destroyed & reborn as well. o Pp. 26: Captain’s hat o Pp. 161; 163 • Fire o Pp. 3: Montag takes pleasure in burning. o Pp. 6: Montag says the smell of kerosene is like perfume to him. o Pp. 33: the firemen’s faces o Pp. 67: Montag considers destroying the destroyers. o Pp. 116: “Fire was best for everything!” o Pp. 121: “don’t face a problem, burn it”. o Pp. 126: Montag feels powerful—“it was incredible how he felt his temperature could cause the whole immediate world to vibrate”. o Pp. 141: the sun burns Time, “So if [Montag] burnt things with the firemen and the sun burnt Time, that meant that everything burnt!” o Pp. 145: fire is warming, not destroying. o Pp. 154: contrast to the fireman’s destructive actions, these men out out the fire once they’ve warmed themselves. o For Montag, fire goes from something that changes, to something that destroys, to something that rebirths (Lenhoff article). • hearth & salamander o the hearth, or fireplace, is a traditional symbol of the home, family, warmth, and unity; however, Montag’s home is not a warm & welcoming place. Rather, it’s cold & filled with isolation & emptiness. The hearth or incinerator in his home is used to burn, to destroy. Fire cleanses their world of the evil of books. o the salamander is one of the official symbols of the firemen, as well as the name they give to their fire trucks. Both of these symbols have to do with fire. There is an ancient belief that it lives in fire and is unaffected by flames. • sieve & sand o Montag’s childhood memory of trying to fill a sieve with sand on the beach to get a dime from a mischievous cousin and crying at the futility of the task. He compares this memory to his attempt to read the whole Bible as quickly as possible on the subway in the hope that some of the material will stay in his memory. o the sand is a symbol of the tangible truth Montag seeks, and the sieve the human mind seeking a truth that remains elusive and impossible to grasp in any permanent way. • Mirrors (this can tie-in to the theme of conscience) o Pp. 7: Clarisse reminds Montag of the wonder of his childhood. o Pp. 33: the firemen’s faces are mirror images of Montag. o Pp. 164: Granger says they must build a mirror factory to take a long look at themselves; this remark recalls Montag’s description of Clarisse as a mirror in “The Hearth and the Salamander.” Mirrors here are symbols of self-understanding, of seeing oneself clearly.
• Hands (this can tie-in to the theme of conscience) o When Montag takes the books he says his hands took them, as if it wasn’t a conscious decision on his part. o Pp/ 41: “His hands were ravenous”. o Pp. 105 o Pp. 119: Montag’s hands kill Beatty, not Montag. o Pp. 145 • Blood: a symbol of a human being’s repressed soul or primal, instinctive self. o Montag often “feels” his most revolutionary thoughts welling and