How do the symbols of the "Phoenix" and "Tree of Life" add meaning to the conclusion of Fahrenheit 451?
I had a think and I came to the conclusion that it symbolises a new beginning. Is there anything more?
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You are totally correct when you think that they symbolize a new beginning. If you will remember, in the book the government has just destroyed the world with an atomic bomb or something of equal power. Ray Bradbury copyrighted this book in 1951---which means he wrote it earlier than that. The atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima took place in 1945 and decimated the population. It is the only use of the atomic bomb to this date, hopefully, because we saw the destruction and utter waste of using the bomb. Montag knows that almost everyone he knows is dead. He isn't sure about Faber because Faber took off for other parts of the country. The only people he knows are still living are the men who have memorized the books.
Granger is the person who actually mentions the Phoenix. The Phoenix in Greek mythology was a bird who
"....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." (pg 162)
Mankind has just destroyed itself. As the men get up, they know that they now have a chance to correct some the wrongs of this civilization and create a new and better one. However, they are realistic. They know it is going to take many generations. Granger says,
"And someday we'll remember so much that we'll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up." (164)
So he sees society as having destroyed itself, and the new society will rise out of the ashes of our predecessors and learn from them. Our predecessors also wrote those books they memorized.
The Tree of life is used in philosophy and religion. Montag had memorized a portion of Ecclesiastes and Revelations from the Bible. It is symbolic of all mankind coming together ---hence the twelve different kinds of fruit ---to interconnect on our planet. The Tree of life is growing on both sides of the river.
"And the leaves were for the healing of the nations." (pg 165)
Another reference to World War II.
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