Why is part 1 of Fahrenheit 451 called "The Hearth and the Salamander?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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"The Hearth and the Salamander" contains two important motifs that recur in Fahrenheit 451. A "hearth" is the stone structure that contains a fireplace, and was considered the center of a home during the pre-electrical age. Since the first section of the novel focuses on how Montag reconciles his home life with his work, the hearth represents his home.

In legend, salamanders were arcane creatures that could live in fire, put fires out, and poison people and land. While none of this is true, the imagery of a salamander in fire has persisted to this day, and it is used both as a symbol for the firemen, and as the name of their "firetrucks," which set fires instead of extinguishing them. Using the two symbols together -- the common image of a "warm hearth" contrasted with the Montag's cold and sterile home -- draws attention to his growing unease and dissatisfaction.


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