Fahrenheit 451 Quotes About Fire: Examples & Analysis

Fahrenheit 451 Quotes About Fire: Examples & Analysis
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  • 0:02 Background
  • 1:17 Fire Causes Destruction
  • 2:08 Fire Illuminates Truth
  • 2:44 Fire Solves Problems
  • 3:22 Fire Offers Comfort
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Fire plays a central role in Ray Bradbury's famous novel 'Fahrenheit 451.' In this lesson, we'll examine how fire is perceived at different points in the story by looking at several quotes from the book.

Background

How can something be simultaneously life-giving and destructive? As our protagonist Guy Montag grows and changes throughout Fahrenheit 451, he discovers that fire is a tool that can be used for comfort, problem-solving, illumination, or destruction. It's ultimately men who make the choice.

Famed American author Ray Bradbury published his equally famed novel Fahrenheit 451 in 1953. The book was an instant success. It was written during the first big boom of the television, when the world was trying to return to normalcy following World War II, which is why it struck such a cord with the American public from the moment it was released. Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel, a novel about a fictional society that is deeply flawed, usually in a horrifying way, resulting in the misery of its citizens.

The story follows Guy Montag, its protagonist, through his suburban, relatively comfortable life. Really, this whole society is a comfortable one: There are no zombies, there are no government-orchestrated killings of infants, and nobody has to fight in death-wishing cars in the sand. Bradbury's view is a much more subtle, much more ingenious one. This novel takes place in the United States, albeit a different version of the country.

Fire Causes Destruction

In the beginning, Montag loves fire. He loves the power that fire represents and the beauty of watching things change before his eyes as the fire consumes them. Montag comes from a long history of firemen and hasn't stopped to think about the consequences of the fires that he enjoys watching, as can be seen in this quote:

It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history.

Fire is beautiful to Montag, despite him using it as a tool of destruction both literally, when the venomous kerosene burns the world, and figuratively, when the symphonies of blazing and burning destroy history.

Fire Illuminates Truth

Meeting Clarisse, then watching the woman burn with her house and her books, changes Montag's perspective. He begins to realize that the frivolity of his life is dissatisfying as he meets others who read, and who have a depth of character that is missing in his world.

When the old woman dies, she repeats the words of Hugh Latimer, who was burned at the stake for heresy in the 1500s. Here are those words:

We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.

To her, the fire represents the beginning of a revolution that lights the way for others to see the truth. Montag yearns to be part of that.

Fire Solves Problems

When Montag is forced to burn his own house after his wife turns him in for hiding books there, one would think that would be difficult for him, but watching his own home burn comes as a relief:

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