Symbols In Fahrenheit 451, By Ray Bradbury

920 words - 4 pages

Since no one can definitely “know” what the future offers, the future represents the beauty of hope. Several writers explore the future through science fiction. One of the most distinguished and prolific writers of science fiction is Ray Bradbury. Although the setting of his famous novel, Fahrenheit 451, is in some future time, the society shown in this setting seems sadly stark, almost hopeless. In a world pervaded with mindless, hedonistic, and destructive individuals, intellect, morality, and creativity have all but vanished. However, three important symbols in this cautionary tale reinforce the inextinguishable, fiery power of knowledge. Three crucial symbols in the novel are the sieve, the hound, and fire.
Early in his life, Guy Montag, the protagonist of the novel flashes back to a painful memory of a childhood challenge with a sieve. As a child, Montag had accepted the challenge from a cousin to try to fill a sieve with sand for a prize of a dime. Too young to realize the futility of this task, as a hopeful child, he toiled for hours in the sun until he cried in despairing defeat. The childish memories of defeat are triggered by Montag’s frustrating adult experiences with reading. As the commercials blared on the public transportation rail, Montag tried to interpret, collect, and grasp the words he read from the Bible, and as he read, “…the silly thought came to him, if you read fast and read all, maybe some of the sand will stay in the sieve. But he read and the words fell through…” (78). In this early reading effort, each word, phrase, or sentence slipped from his mind in much the same way the sands of his childhood had slipped through the sieve. This allegorical flashback demonstrates both the frustration and determination of Montag.
Another important symbol in the novel is the mechanical hound. Considered by the firemen to be a perfect replacement for the traditional canine hound, which locate and rescue any trapped victims, the new mechanical hound is the familiar “pet” in the firehouse. The familiar Dalmatian breed of dog, once associated with modern firemen, has been replaced in the future by a cold, cyber creäture, a mechanical hound, used to track, locate, and kill using its “…sensitive capillary hairs in the nylon-brushed nostrils…” (24). Just as the purpose of firemen has changed, so has the purpose of their dogs. These mechanical hounds are never programmed to rescue, only to kill. Frequently used in sporting combat to attack rats or cats, the mechanical hounds provide a recreational entertainment for gambling firemen. Even though Monatg’s relationship with the mechanical hound has changed (since he no longer permits himself to bet on the hound), he attempts to affectionately touch the muzzle of the unsleeping sleepy dog at the...

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