In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, what metaphor does the author use to create vivid images of the fire hose?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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A fire hose is an inanimate object that has no life to it; it's just cloth, metal, plastic and kerosene.  However, Ray Bradbury uses a metaphor to personify the hose.  He gives the hose qualities of a live, dangerous snake.  He writes that it is a "great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world."  This great description takes something that is inanimate and neutral, and bestows it with an edge of danger and violence.  It symbolizes how the hose really is something to be feared; its venom is the kerosene that poisons and kills people's lives when it comes to your door.  Personifying the hose as a snake gives it symbolic depth and a true sense of its danger and evil.  A snake is a symbol that has been used to symbolize Satan, fear and violence throughout the ages, and Bradbury's use of it hear gives the hose and the destruction that the firemen bring with it added layers of  harm and  terror.  Bradbury uses metaphors quite a bit in this book to bring things alive--books are beautiful birds, Clarisse is a mirror, reflecting your true self back on you, etc.  Keep your eyes open for them, and it will add a whole other layer of meaning to your reading.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In the opening scene of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Montag readies his fire hose to burn down a house. The following excerpt describes the hose and how Montag uses it as follows:

"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" (3).

The fire hose is compared to a python, which is a type of boa constrictor that can grow up to twenty feet in length. The girth of such snakes is also enormous; so if the reader can imagine Montag holding a large python, then this image can help to show how much strength is also needed to control something with such mass. Furthermore, the amount of pressure and heat that must come out of the brass nozzle is probably intense because it is described as "spitting venomous kerosene upon the world." Not only does this image reflect the intensity of heat, but also the destructive results it can produce. 

Montag is described as being able to handle this massive fire hose with some ease, because his hands are compared to those of a symphony's conductor who must know exactly what he is doing. Therefore, the metaphor with the fire hose being compared to a python, plus Montag's hands being compared to those of a conductor's when using the hose, both create an interesting image. For example, one might picture a symphony conductor trying to conduct an orchestra with a baton as large as a python! But whatever pictures pop into the reader's head from these images, though, it can be inferred that first, the hose must be massive, and second, Montag must be pretty strong to control it like he does.  




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