In Fahrenheit 451, why did Ray Bradbury choose the phoenix and the salamander as symbols?
Ray Bradbury's classic of science fiction literature, Fahrenheit 451, evokes symbolism associated with the role of fire in his story and with the notion of rebirth following destruction. Most prominent in this respect is his use of the mythological Phoenix, a bird that represents immortality and vision, and that continues to rise from the ashes of physical destruction. In Bradbury's story, the main character, Guy Montag, is a fireman. In the dystopian futuristic society depicted in Fahrenheit 451, however, firemen do not extinguish fires; rather, they are dispatched to burn books, which are banned by the totalitarian regime that governs this fictional world, and to burn down the homes of those discovered to be in possession of these sources of knowledge. Early in his narrative, Bradbury depicts Montag's encounter with the teenage girl Clarisse, describing her reaction to the symbols on Montag's uniform: "she seemed hypnotized by the salamander on his arm and the phoenix-disc on his chest ." The firemen wear uniforms with the Phoenix and with salamanders, real-life animals that, in ancient times, were believed to represent fire and the being that can pass through the flames unharmed. Both of these creatures, one entirely mythological, the other real but identified with fire, are used by Bradbury to denote the paradoxical relationship between the firemen in his story and the fire, destruction, and resurrection they represent. The image of a salamander, it should be noted, is engraved on the lighters the firemen carry, a further association of this animal with the flames of destruction. When Faber describes his plan for the destruction of the firemen, the "praetorian guard"...
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