In the book Fahrenheit 451 what "fire images" describe the ladies?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Mrs. Montag invites the ladies to come over for some mutual television, she answers the door "like a native fleeing an eruption of Vesuvius" (pg 93)  This is a reference to the volcano that erupted spewing fire over the natives below.

Montag watches the ladies and says that he...

Check Out
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

When Mrs. Montag invites the ladies to come over for some mutual television, she answers the door "like a native fleeing an eruption of Vesuvius" (pg 93)  This is a reference to the volcano that erupted spewing fire over the natives below.

Montag watches the ladies and says that he saw their "Cheshire cat smiles burning through the walls of the house." ( pg 93)

He turns off the television or the three walls, and the three ladies become uncomfortable.  They light cigarettes and are "blowing smoke" (pg 95) while they are fingering their "sun-fired hair" and examining their "blazing fingernails as if they had caught fire from his look." (pg 95)

Finally, they become so uncomfortable that they are "burning with tension." (pg 96) The volcano image emerges again with "they might hiss a long sputtering hiss and explode" (pg 96)

When Mrs. Montag asks him to read Dover Beach, the room becomes "blazing hot" to him and he was "all fire".  He feels that the women "sat in the middle of an empty desert" (pg 99) and, when he read the poem, his voice went out across that desert, but they sat in their "great hot  emptiness." (pg 99)

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Mildred runs out of the parlor to greet Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles, Bradbury writes that Mildred was running like "a native fleeing an eruption of Vesuvius." As Mildred and her friends walk into the parlor to experience the senseless interactive television shows, Bradbury compares the parlor to a "volcano's mouth." Montag then stops eating and begins to imagine their "Cheshire Cat smiles burning" through the parlor walls. Despite Faber's warnings, Montag can no longer stand being in the same house as the insensitive, shallow women and eventually pulls the plug on the parlor walls, which successfully gets their attention. Overall, Bradbury conjures several images relating to fire while describing Mildred and her friends as they watch their interactive television shows. The images of Mount Vesuvius erupting and comparing the parlor to a volcano's mouth are striking visions that correspond to the fascinating yet destructive nature of the parlor walls. The burning smiles on the women's faces are also eerily similar to the permanent smiles burnt onto the faces of firemen. After Montag turns off the parlor walls, he begins reading poetry aloud, and the women burst into tears.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As Montag watches the women in the parlor, there are several fire-related images.  First of all, Mildred is described with a volcano image.

…Mildred ran from the parlour like a native fleeing an eruption of Vesuvius…

Mildred and the other two women are watching their “parlour families,” television shows.  The women “vanish into the volcano’s mouth.”

These fire images reinforce the idea that the women are part of a lost society, where people do not really talk to each other.

They were like a monstrous crystal chandelier tinkling in a thousand chimes, he saw their Cheshire Cat smiles burning through the walls of the house, and now they were screaming at each other above the din. (part 2)

When the women talk about the war, they describe how it is so short, and how if the men die they should just move on.  They intentionally are distant and unemotional.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on