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Why are the phoenix and salamander the professional symbols of the firemen?

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sshekel | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 26, 2008 at 4:24 AM via web

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Why are the phoenix and salamander the professional symbols of the firemen?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 26, 2008 at 6:11 AM (Answer #1)

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These are both mythological creatures who had close ties to fire, and who specifically were not hurt by it. The phoenix was burned, but only in the process of regeneration. The salamander lived among the flames, happily. They are appropriate from the government's point of view, because these creatures symbolize what they want their fireman to be, and connect heroic associations with their oppressive acts.

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 5, 2008 at 9:00 AM (Answer #2)

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Stretching Ray Bradbury's symbolism of the Salamander and the Phoenix can translate into this: the salamander, the lizard who is a mythic being able to live even in the presence of fire.  It skin is cold and it is suggested that the cold body can put out the flames.  The Phoenix, is of course a symbol of rebirth.  The rising Phoenix out of the ashes is reborn to live again.

Even though Bradbury uses the Salamander to represent the fire trucks in the book, maybe the Salamander, resistant to fire can be a symbol of the spark that still exists in mankind, as evidenced in Guy Montag, Faber, and others who desire to read books and be educated.  That spark cannot be totally extinguished it has a salamander-like quality resisting the fire. Living alongside the fire, yet surviving.

The rebirth in human society of intellect,  especially symbolized as a rising Phoenix is a beautiful image.  Since Bradbury is a writer, he would apply this image to this important concept of starting over and learning to love the written word all over again.  

Its a stretch, but I enjoy interpreting images and symbols in literature!

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theklloui | Student | eNoter

Posted December 9, 2008 at 9:43 PM (Answer #3)

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1/2:

There is a myth of salamanders that they can live in fire and are elemental animal of fire. So they are important for the existence of the world. Regarding the firemen of "Fahrenheit 451", this means that society can only survive with the work of these people. Without them this society would not be able to remain. Besides the salamander is a sign for decay, maturing and transformation. Linked to the novel these processes have certain meanings: Decay is a kind of destruction. The firemen

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theklloui | Student | eNoter

Posted December 10, 2008 at 6:03 PM (Answer #4)

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theklloui | Student | eNoter

Posted December 10, 2008 at 6:05 PM (Answer #5)

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2nd part:

The phoenix is a mythological bird, which has the ability to burn itself and to be reborn from its own ashes.

In contrast to the salamander the phoenix is not an appropriate symbol of the firemen, because they just destroy their surrounding but do not rebuilt something from their destruction that can be compared with the rebirth of the phoenix.

In fact, it is a great metaphor for the whole plot of “Fahrenheit 451”. The bird burns itself when it is sick and old; in “Fahrenheit” the society is “sick and old” and destroyed itself by beginning a war. After that the animal is reborn from its own ashes; Montag and the book people are in this case “ the rebirth” of the city´s ashes.


One can draw the conclusion that the salamander is an appropriate symbol for the fireman whereas the phoenix cannot be associated with the firemen´s work.

 

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theklloui | Student | eNoter

Posted December 10, 2008 at 6:09 PM (Answer #6)

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1st part:

There is a myth of salamanders that they can live in fire and are elemental animal of fire. So they are important for the existence of the world. Regarding the firemen of "Fahrenheit 451", this means that society can only survive with the work of these people. Without them this society would not be able to remain. Besides the salamander is a sign for decay, maturing and transformation. Linked to the novel these processes have certain meanings: Decay is a kind of destruction. The firemen´s job is to destroy books. This point fits to the symbol of the salamander. Furthermore the maturing process can be associated with two aspects in the novel. On the one hand, regarding Montag, this is a hint for his development. On the other hand, firemen believe that they improve society by their work. For them burning books is a maturing process.

Transformation in “Fahrenheit 451” stands for the function of firemen. In former times firemen had to extinguish flames. But now they have to inflame things.

All in all the salamander can be seen as an appropriate symbol of the firemen.

 

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