Phoenix Quotes in Fahrenheit 451: Examples & Analysis

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

The Phoenix, a mythological bird, is referenced throughout 'Fahrenheit 451' because of its relationship to fire. In this lesson, we will talk about the symbolic use of the Phoenix by the author, Ray Bradbury.

Symbol of Resurrection

How would you characterize a man who is compared to Don Juan? The reference to Don Juan is an allusion from a Spanish play in which Don Juan's character devotes his life to seducing women. Allusions are vague references to things that represent bigger ideas.

In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the author makes allusions to the Phoenix. The Phoenix is a mythological bird that has appeared in various cultures for thousands of years. It has appeared in by Egyptian and Greek mythology, as well as the Old Testament, as a symbol of resurrection and eternal life. Let's learn more about how allusions to the Phoenix are used in this novel.

The Phoenix is a mythological bird that is reborn in fire.
Phoenix

Symbolic of Firemen

The Phoenix has been adopted as a symbol of the firemen. When Guy Montag first meets Clarisse, 'she seemed hypnotized by the salamander on his arm and the phoenix-disc on his chest.' Clarisse later expresses her surprise that Montag is a fireman, as he seems much more interested in talking to her than other firemen she has met.

Mention is also made about the captain wearing 'the sign of the Phoenix on his hat.' Captain Beatty also drives a car that displays the sign, as Millie remarks when Captain Beatty comes to their home. 'There's a phoenix car just driven up and a man in a black shirt with an orange snake stitched on his arm coming up the front walk.'

It is almost an oxymoron that the firemen would use the symbol of the Phoenix, as the Phoenix represents rebirth from fire, while the firemen in the novel simply use fire for destruction. An oxymoron is a contradiction in terms, such as 'jumbo shrimp.' Perhaps the firemen really do believe they are using their destructive methods to clear the way for a better world?

Destruction

It is not until Montag meets Granger that he learns the significance of the Phoenix. As Granger explains it, 'There was a silly damn bird called a Phoenix back before Christ, every few hundred years he built a pyre (bonfire) and burnt himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man.' Granger is contemplating the amazing ability of humans to destroy themselves and everything around them.

Rebirth

What do men do once they have obliterated themselves? Like the Phoenix, men rebuild what they destroy. 'But every time he (the Phoenix) burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we're doing the same thing, over and over, but we've got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did.'

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