In part three of "Fahrenheit 451" what does "Burning Bright" stand for, or mean?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are four or five possible direct correlations between the title of section three, and events that occur in that section.  They are of Montag's house "burning bright" as it is torched, of Beatty "burning bright" as he dies, of Montag's entire city and society "burning bright" as planes destroy it with bombs, and that of the symbolic Phoenix spoken of by Granger "burning bright" once again as their entire way of living is wiped out and burned, making room for him and Montag and their group of outsiders to come in and rebuild it.  Symbolically, Montag's future is "burning bright" as he moves with his new friends to attempt to build a society that won't make the same mistakes as the past one did.

At the beginning of section three, Montag shows up at his house, only to discover that the firemen have been called there--by his own wife--and that it is going to be burned down to the ground.  Beatty has Montag himself torch it; after he is done, "the house fell in red coals and black ash."  His life as he knew it was gone.  Then, when Montag cracks, he burns Beatty also; Beatty becomes a "shrieking blaze" before he dies.  When the city is burned, it goes up in a large fireball, a "flourish of light."  Granger describes how the Phoenix "burnt himself up" only to be born again, new.

Overall, the burning bright is a symbol, a tie to specific instances, where everything that Montag ever knew is completely destroyed, through fire, burning bright as his life is wiped clean.  I hope that those thoughts help!  Good luck!

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title "Burning Bright" might also be an allusion to the first line of William Blake's poem "The Tyger":

Tyger Tyger, burning bright.

In this poem, the speaker marvels at the beauty of a tiger—and its capacity for violence and destruction. Blake explores the dualism of the tiger and of society, more generally, in which beauty and violence exist side by side.

We can relate this idea to Fahrenheit 451 in a couple of ways. Firstly, the tiger is symbolic of Montag. Just like a tiger, Montag has proven himself capable of extreme acts of violence, like the murder of Beatty. But Montag, like the tiger, contains some beauty, specifically in his motivations. He is working to create a better world in which censorship does not exist and people are free to pursue their own interests and education.

Similarly, "The Tyger" also relates to the ending of the novel. Although the city is burned to the ground in an extreme act of violence, it provides something beautiful in the opportunity to rebuild society. This ending, therefore, reflects the dualism found in Blake's poem.

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Fahrenheit 451

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