The novel “ Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury is a fictional book published in 1953, about a world in which firemen do not rescue houses; they torch them and erase the printed word. Within Fahrenheit 451, the fire was interpreted by the lead character Guy Montag, once a fireman, in many different ways. Fire symbolizes both senseless and ruthless devastation, as well as a chance to cleanse and rebuild, to start over. The author portrays this through using the contrasting image of how fire can show both death and rebirth, destruction of spirit and hope and while Montag feels pleasure in burning he has a contradictory feeling of disgust and guilt.
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Bradbury illustrates two stages of fire transforms throughout the novel from death to rebirth. Fire reflects change in the novel as fire encourages Montag to experience a symbolic transition in which he avoids using fire to destroy knowledge but helps him find it instead. On the very first pages of the novel, Bradbury describes when things were being burned down and people in that society felt delighted and satisfied.
Throughout the novel, several things are represented as alive as well as dead. Those are unlikely and an oxy-moron, but Bradbury’s way of explaining these things makes it feel true and plausible. Mildred is one of the things he describes as alive as well as extinct. She spends her day watching the three walled television and interacting with her “ family.” She was so brainwashed by the series at the end of the day that she doesn’t even know what had happened during it. Captain Beatty once said ‘ Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean.’ (Bradbury 29)
According to Beatty, fire purges the atmosphere of confrontation, claiming that it is helpful to humanity as opposed to the solving to challenges by compromise, self-awareness and discovery, and that the elimination to obstacles is a cure for both of Montag’s eyes. Captain Beatty told Montague that all the problems in the world were always burnt with fire. Interestingly, Beatty became an issue, with Montague slowly burning out. “ You always say, do not face the problem, I will burn it, well, I’ve never done it twice. I have never done it twice. If you, Goodbye, Captain” (Bradbury 121) Bradbury determines much of the Fahrenheit 451 centres on the vices and destructive impulses in human existence, which render life in Montag so bleak and wretched. One example of this is when Mildred hears about Clarisse’s death. They are neighbor and she totally forgets to tell Montag until he brings it up to her four days later when she says, ‘ Whole family moved out somewhere. But she is gone for good. I think she is dead.’ (Bradbury 47). This shows that even when Mildred knew that someone died, she didn’t really care, she just forgot and ignored them.
Another example of the disregard of human life in the society is when Beatty figured out that Montag had books, and Montag was trying to decide whether to go to work, when Montag says, ‘ I have not decided. Right now I have got an awful feeling that I want to smash things and kill things.’ (Bradbury 64) So it’s fantastic that at the close of the book there’s a ray of hope. Montag’s city was decimated, his wife gone, Faber has suffered an unknown fate and Clarisse died. This is not a really happy picture because all that Montag loved and cherished was lost. However, Bradbury created an open-ending for the novel and gave the reader ‘ light at end of tunnel’ when he let Granger outlines a plan, and mentions the story of the Phoenix, there is a ray of hope and optimism.
Granger explains how, according to myth, the phoenix, a dragon, “ every few hundred years he built a pyre and burnt himself up… but every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again.” This storey relates to the Montag world; it crumbled and burned, and these men, these outliers, must be the ones to go back and restore it. Granger says that next time when they recover, they must fix it properly so they will avoid making all the same mistakes. Thus, following the significantly tragic ending, Bradbury takes the ashes of Montag’s community and believes that they will create a lighter, happier future out of them, and Montag can be one of the individuals who helps to do so. This is the theme and optimism at the end of the book.